Saturday, April 11, 2009
WARNING: These comments contain some spoilers:
Duplicity is a brilliantly written, brilliantly acted, excellently directed, old-fashioned in technique, modern in spirit, thoroughly entertaining film... until the last few minutes.
Then it confuses and disappoints, ending with the wrong payoff, weakly presented.
Much is often made, in films and stories about Hollywood, about how a studio forces some idealistic young director to change his ending -- the one with integrity -- to a softer ending in order to make more money. (eg. What Just Happened). Duplicity is the perfect example of where, if the studio had insisted on a different ending, they could have been right! Forget the fact (well, guess) that the film might have made twice as much money, the current ending just does not work. And right before the ending there is a bit of expository back-flashing that is confusing and so simple-minded, compared to the rest of the film, that it compounds the problem.
If, as one may guess, one element of the duplicity in the film is the ending, then perhaps the idea of the ending is OK, but the execution still fails completely.
By the way, the actors are innocent victims of whatever problems the film has:
Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are both exceptional, classy in the classic way, and as tawdry as they should be.
As a side note, they act "bad acting" perfectly.
The other principal actors in the film are also excellent.
Enjoy the film up to the last few moments -- and then at the end, just re-write and re-direct the ending in your head.