Industrial espionage is Duplicity's theme. Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson head up rival mega-corporations. They hate each other. Their revulsion spills over into an original, and quite creative, slow motion fight at an airport early in the movie.
With a better reference point it might have worked.
That's the flaw with most of Duplicity, an engaging and entertaining thriller that works on some levels and not on others.
Pre-fight we're introduced to the film's stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. He's a spy. She's a spy. They meet. He seduces her, she drugs him and steals the secret he's protecting. Flash forward. He works one rival. She works for the other—with a twist.
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So fierce is the hatred of the two CEOs that Roberts' Claire Stenwick and Owen's Ray Koval think they can make their own financial killing playing one side against the other.
All of this is given to you in flashbacks and flash-forwards. You have to be patient. Writer/director Tony Gilroy's (Michael Clayton) convoluted plot takes some concentration and though the transitions between past and present are tasty, the trips can be head-scratching.
Gilroy sells this mostly unbelievable concept through the very believable performances of an outstanding starring and supporting cast. Kudos go first to Roberts and Owen whose easy chemistry gets you through much of the plot's mush. Then there's Giamatti and Wilkinson, two guys who could play houseplants and blow your mind.
And is there a better character actor anywhere than Paul Giamatti? Exceedingly entertaining in everything, Giamatti even makes forms of brain death like Shoot 'Em Up watchable. He steals scene-after-scene-after-scene like his co-star Tom Wilkinson did in Gilroy's Michael Clayton.
To date it's the best performance of the year in any category. The film is a good one but even if you end up not liking Duplicity, Giamatti's rat-a-tat-tat villainy is worth the price of a ticket.
Maybe the Academy will finally give him an Oscar.
Some of Gilroy's plot twists are telegraphed. Others aren't. And whether you ultimately figure it our or not, the characters, the quality of the acting and the excellent dialogue of Duplicity make the journey fun.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
I Love You, Man
Paul Rudd is cunning.
He underplays his cherubic, boy-next-door looks to perfection. Rudd's (Role Models) characters always seem on the verge of a meltdown. In desperate need of a hug, women can't resist the urge to give him a squeeze and a pat on the top of the head that says, "Mommy's here, everything is alright."
Middle age gets here fast and though he's a good actor, this is Rudd's only real saleable talent. So he picks projects very carefully and a Rudd star vehicle is usually a treat.
I Love You, Man casts him as Peter Klaven, a guy who has never had a guy best friend. He's about to be married and doesn't have someone to stand up with him. Manufacturing a best friend seems the best solution, so he starts dating guys.
Eventually he settles on Jason Segel's (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) Sydney Fife. He's a man closing in on or just passing 30. His friends have moved on but he refuses to give up his partying ways. Like Rudd, Segel is a master at underplaying a role. Yes, Fife is a total galoot but he resists the temptation to push the character over-the-top.
Having never had a best friend, Peter easily slips into the Fife habit. That causes the wedding plans to short-circuit.
No surprise. But the excellent acting combined with a sweet, quickly told story and very good writing makes it very easy to love I Love You, Man.
Another plus: it's not produced, written or directed by Judd Apatow.
Rated R for mature themes, language. It opens Friday, March 20 at Regal's Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild 12.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 star
Tell No One
This is a switch. Usually foreign movies or novels are dumbed down and filmed for American audiences. Tell No One is a French film based on author Harlan Coben's American whodunit. A doctor's beloved wife is murdered and he is brutally beaten. Eight years later he gets an email. She's alive and the doctor is plunged head first into a twisting, turning, always surprising thriller.
Whodunnits are my favorite movie genre. Few of them meet my very high standards. The book was terrific. The movie version--shock--is even better. Do not miss this one--and if you know the ending--tell no one.
Not rated but with mature themes. It plays Friday, March 20 only at 8:00 p.m. at the Battelle Auditorium.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie. 3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video. 2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother.0 stars: Speaks for itself