English SDH, Spanish, French, none
• Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Tony Gilroy &
Editor/Co-Producer John Gilroy
• BD-Live 2.0
Seeing Tony Gilroy's name as writer should be reassuring,
his having given us the three Bourne movies and Michael
Clayton. We should also credit the filmmakers for a spy
movie without guns, car chases or explosions – unless we
count explosions of temper and passion – of which Duplicity
has many. Until the end, when, like Ben and Elaine at the
back of the bus, all is spent. Meanwhile, this romantic,
comedic thriller spins itself into quite the little cobweb
of suspicion, plotting and thievery.
Ray Koval (Clive Owen) and Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts)
are professional spies who meet in Dubai several years
before the main action of the story. Unbeknownst to him, Ray
is Claire's assignment, and she lifts the requisite
documents after bedding and drugging the poor sap. They meet
again a couple years later when their passion for each other
takes hold and realize they aren't ever going to meet
someone else who has the understanding of their peculiar
temperament – viz., paranoid. They decide they need to stop
meeting like this and settle down to a life of fine living.
To do this they need to set up a multi-million dollar score.
Enter: Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and Richard Garsik (Paul
Giamatti). To describe them as rivals of their respective
consumer products companies is the gross understatement of
the year. Armand d'Hubert and Gabriel Féraud have nothing on
them. How Ray and Claire set up these two companies while
each looking over their shoulder to see if the other is
pulling a fast one is most of the substance of this movie,
told with much time-shifting of events, as if to throw our
attention off guard – not that we actually know what we're
looking for. And that's either the beauty or the irritant of
Duplicity for many critics. Add to this that Claire is
nearly always positioned as one-up on her boyfriend, a
deliberately unbalanced state of affairs that leads us to
believe – well, you know. Being the smart asses that writers
are these days we must also entertain the possibility that
this imbalance is just another ruse. And so it goes.
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
Universal's VC-1 image is quite strong, but given the
relative absence of extra features, is satisfied with a
single-layered disc. Shot on HD video, the image is sharp,
artifact-free, with saturated color and somewhat pumped up
contrast, slightly crushing the blacks.
CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio & Music:
Whatever misgivings I have about the audio mix, James Newton
Howard's rollicking music score and its presentation is one
of the high points of this Blu-ray. However, while the great
majority of the audio track is clear, dynamic and involving,
with dialogue always crisp and clear, there is at least
scene when the ambiance is dead wrong. When Ray spies Claire
in Rome he's sitting in a small plaza (in front of the
Pantheon I believe). The crowd noise is horrific, like
Manhattan during holiday shopping. This is not Rome, at
least not at the plaza where Ray is enjoying a relaxing cup
of java. Worse yet, when he follows her through the byways
and alleys, the crowd noise follows them like locusts. It
astonishes me that such an obvious slip could have gotten
past Mr and Mr Gilroy, but so it did. Even so, this mistake
could have been moderated for the Blu-ray, where the home
theatre audience is more likely to notice such things.
The menu is laid out like other Universal Blu-rays. Arrows
tell you which way to direct your remote. No U-Control on
this one; the audio commentary can be accessed from the menu
or the remote.
The Extra Features are limited to the audio commentary
brought to us in entertaining and informative fashion by the
Gilroys: Tony & John (Tony's younger brother, who also did
the editing honors for Tony's only other directed film to
date, Michael Clayton.) Tony dominates, as we would expect.
They explore how the movie came to be, having started as a
project years ago intended for Spielberg. Its later
gestation, by way of George Clooney and Clive Owen, is a
smile. The usual attention is paid to casting, locations,
editing and scripting. There are also some additional
features accessible via BD-Live 2.0 that I did not explore.
Duplicity is one of those "things are not as they seem"
plots that has the advantage of a very funny script (Ray to
Claire, declaring how much he loves her: "I think about you
all the time. I think about you even when you're with me")
that serves to divert our attention while the pea is being
shuffled from one pod to the other. If you like this movie
you will no doubt want to watch it a second time to find out
how you were duped. More important, you will want to find
out if the characters are playing their parts for the sake
of the plot or to fool you. The image is very nice, the
audio a mixed bag, though the music score is awesome. Tony &
John have fun with the commentary.
August 16th, 2009