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Duplicity is a 2009 American romantic comedy spy-thriller film written and directed by Tony Gilroy, and starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, about two corporate spies with a romantic history who collaborate to carry out a complicated con. The film was released on March 20, 2009.


The film opens five years earlier than the present, showing the Fourth of July celebration at the American consulate in Dubai, where Ray Koval (Clive Owen), an MI6marker agent, appears to seduce Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts), unknowingly to him a CIA agent. Claire manages to drug Ray and steals classified documents from him.

The scene cuts to Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson), the CEO of Burkett & Randle, and Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti), the CEO of Equikrom, illustrating the rivalry between the two consumer product corporations when they get into a brawl upon encountering each other on the tarmac.

In the present day, Ray is a corporate spy in New York City who goes to work for Equikrom; at a meet, he spots Claire, thinking the mission is blown. When Ray follows her and confronts her finally for the incident in Dubai, Claire persistently puts up an innocent act, pretending she has never met Ray, until they both realize they were supposed to meet. Claire has been undercover as a counter-intelligence officer at Burkett & Randle for the past 14 months, and Ray is to become her new handler.

At Burkett & Randle, a major development is underfoot, and Tully makes a speech that paints them as innovators defending themselves from duplicity and theft. At Equikrom, who manage to get a copy of the speech through Claire, Dick Garsik scoffs at the company that purchased a dump to go through their garbage, and plots to steal whatever Burkett & Randle have developed.

The scene cuts to two years earlier in Rome, where we see Ray and Claire actually meeting for the first time since Dubai as well as Claire's exact same innocent act as before. It is revealed Ray and Claire did not meet at Equikrom by chance; they plan to wait for the perfect opportunity to cheat both companies and sell a corporate secret to the highest bidder for themselves. It's clear, however, neither still completely trusts the other, and suspicion abounds as to who is playing whom.

The team at Equikrom believes Ronny Partiz (Christopher Denham), a child prodigy turned genius, might be responsible for Burkett & Randle's new product. Ray and Boris Fetyov (Oleg Stefan) stake out Partiz at a casino in the Bahamas, when Claire and Jeff Bauer (Thomas McCarthy) from Burkett & Randle foil their plans by planting evidence of them cheating the casino.

In return, Howard Tully at Burkett & Randle thanks Claire for successfully defending the company's new product, revealing it to be the cure for baldness. When Jeff Bauer is later caught attempting to steal the formula and she is left guarding him and the formula alone, Claire manages to use one of the rigged photocopiers at Burkett & Randle to transfer it to Equikrom.

Back at Equikrom, Claire accuses Ray of stealing the formula for himself, and he is searched and exposed when it is found. Ray, believing Claire betrayed him, later finds Claire at the Z├╝rich airport in Switzerland. Claire confesses she loves him and that's why she's still at the airport; Ray reciprocates the feelings and reveals he had another copy of the formula.

Ray and Claire attempt to sell the formula to a Swiss company for $35 million; meanwhile Dick Garsik is revealing to his shareholders that they are in the final stages of testing for a product that cures baldness. The Swiss, however, reveal the formula is a fraud. The scene cuts to ten days earlier, where we see Pam Frailes (Kathleen Chalfant) at Equikrom was really working for Burkett & Randle all along, Ronny Partiz was simply used as the bait, and Jeff Bauer staged stealing the formula. The film ends with Ray and Claire, as well as Garsik at the end of his shareholders' meeting, realizing they have all been played by Howard Tully.


  • Julia Roberts as Claire Stenwick, notionally a corporate spy for Burkett & Randle, one of the rival pharmaceutical companies
  • Clive Owen as Ray Koval, a corporate spy for Equikrom, one of the rival pharmaceutical company.
  • Tom Wilkinson as Howard Tully, the CEO of Burkett & Randle, one of the rival companies.
  • Paul Giamatti as Richard "Dick" Garsik, the CEO of Equikrom, one of the rival companies.
  • Denis O'Hare as Duke Monahan, employee at Equikrom
  • Kathleen Chalfant as Pam Fraile, employee at Equikrom
  • Thomas McCarthy as Jeff Bauer, employee at Burkett & Randle
  • Wayne Duvall as Ned Guston, employee at Burkett & Randle
  • Carrie Preston as Barbara Bofferd, travel agent at Burkett & Randle
  • Christopher Denham as Ronny Partiz, child prodigy that is believed to be responsible for Burkett & Randle's new product
  • Oleg Shtefanko as Boris Fetyov (as Oleg Stefan) employee at Equikrom


Production on Duplicity began in New York Citymarker on March 9, 2008, and wrapped shooting on May 27 of that year.Filming locations included Paradise Islandmarker in the Bahamasmarker for the casino shots, New York Citymarker including the West Village marker, Trafalgar Square in London and outside the Pantheon in Romemarker.


The film was released on March 19, 2009 in Australia and on March 20 in the USmarker and the UKmarker. It had its world premiere on March 11, 2009 at London's Leicester Squaremarker.


The film received positive reviews from film critics. Based on 166 reviews, it garnered a 65% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "Duplicity is entertaining, but the complexities of its plot keep it from being really involving: When nothing is as it seems, why care?", but admitted that "the fun is in watching Roberts and Owen fencing with dialogue, keeping straight faces, trying to read each other's minds". In his review for The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris wrote, "So what has gone wrong with Duplicity? I can only go with my gut feeling: that Mr. Gilroy has outsmarted himself by pulling too many switches in his narrative. He then fails to recover by coming up with a smash ending that pulls all the scattered pieces together". Scott Foundas, in his review for the Village Voice, wrote, "Comedy seems to have liberated Gilroy, who directs Duplicity with the high gloss and fleet-footed hustle of a golden-age Hollywood craftsman. There's nary a dull stretch in its two-hour breadth".

Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B" rating and Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, "Gilroy counts on a Thin Man-style undercurrent of sexual sparring to sustain our interest in two scheming corporate operatives despite the fact that nothing much else is going on". In his review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott praised Julia Roberts' performance: "Ms. Roberts has almost entirely left behind the coltish, America's-sweetheart mannerisms, except when she uses them strategically, to disarm or confuse. Curvier than she used to be and with a touch of weariness around her eyes and impatience in her voice, she is, at 41, unmistakably in her prime". Sukhdev Sandhu, in his review for The Daily Telegraph, wrote, "Duplicity is really all about Roberts and Owen. They're con artists, but they don't fool us. Their pairing here feels duplicitous. Gilroy, it seems, is better at thrilling audiences than he is at seducing them". However, not all reviews were positive; Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film two and a half stars out of four and said "Gilroy and his stars make it elegant fun to be fooled, but they sure as hell make you work for it."

Home media

The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray Disc on August 25, 2009.


  1. allmovie ((( Duplicity > Overview )))

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