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30 March 2009

Double Duplicity

I was duped. I've almost been tricked by the Odeon website before. In some of their cinemas, you see, they construct the cinema not to make some seats better than an average seat in an average cinema but to make other seats worse by putting random balconies in the way of the screen and angling the seats really oddly. I suppose this makes some people want to fork out the extra £2, although if I'm already paying a tenner for the cinema, for an extra two quid, I'd want free ice cream and a really comfortable seat. They also construct the website so that when you book your seat, you have to first click on your "section"--standard or premium--but the two sections are so intermingled and the design of the site is so clunky (or Chrome-unfriendly) that it's hard to see which section you have selected. This meant I ended up paying £12 for a "premium" seat in an almost deserted cinema. My view of the screen was perfect (at least compared to the artificially impaired views in the standard seats) but the seat wasn't very comfy (it seemed to be designed for someone at least eight inches taller than me, which meant that by the end, my neck was immensely uncomfortable) and there wasn't even enough leg room for my short legs.

I was also duped because I had the impression that Duplicity was a straight thriller instead of the campest effing thriller I've seen in a long time. Actually, thriller is probably the wrong word because although there were a few thrilling moments (Clive getting his kit off did it for me more than Julia running around some corporate HQ trying to find a photocopier before she got caught, somehow), I wasn't exactly on the edge of my seat for most of the film. In fact, towards the end, I was expecting that Clive would rip off a mask and reveal that he was actually George Clooney in Intolerable Cruelty (or even in Ocean's Eleven) because it felt like a very Clooneyesque role. Maybe that's just because I think Clive's hotter when he's being serious (a la Children of Men or Sin City), though I did quite enjoy his Chancer days, not to mention his working class guilt in Closer.

Actually, Closer, which also starred Clive and Julia, isn't a bad connection to make for Duplicity because the former was all about four people who don't trust one another, duping (duplicitising?) one another as much as they could get away with, although the main motive seemed to be "true love" rather than lots of lolly. Duplicity too is about Clive and Julia screwing--and screwing each other over, while also trying to screw the companies for whom they work. It's all a little complicated with plenty of flashbacks, gorgeous hotel rooms and characters who may or may not be playing for the other team--or both teams--and it really isn't very deep (I think there was maybe one scene, of about 50 seconds where C and J let down their defences briefly and even appear vulnerable and emotionally involved (well, emotionally involved, anyway, as opposed to the randy competitiveness (or is that competitive randiness) that is the dominant mood for the rest of the movie).

Duplicity is a funny film, although I'm not sure it's always intentional. I'm not sure whether Clive's Nashville accent was intended to be quite so awful but it was pretty hilarious (and still got him laid). As in The International, I couldn't help but snicker at some of his cheesy lines and at Clive's character's arrogance (people he's slept with are a traditional strength for him, don'tcha know?) and the way he can't stop grinning when two of the guys on his team tell him what a big swinging dick he is.

Of course, I had to watch out for the scene I saw being filmed. We waited at Grand Central for an hour while I watched and they were filming when we started and after we left and, of course, the scene lasted about 20 seconds. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of myself, blurry, in the background (all of the people on camera were proper extras) but the stupid information booth in the centre of the station blocked me out. However, as with the punt scene in Sylvia, It was still quite fun to see a scene I had seen been filmed.

I felt it all lost momento at the very moment it should have been climaxing (possibly because at two hours, it was a little too long); by then, it was all rather, "yes, we know...they're all very duplicitous and yes, we're sure it's going to be another 20 minutes before we find out who duplicitised whom the best." It was entertaining, though, and more enjoyable than The International, not least because in Duplicity Clive was more Bogart-with-a-heart than the random dude with about seven words of backstory and about five personality keywords he played in The International. He and Julia do have good chemistry and the characters were charismatic enough, if frothy and a little predictable.

Blaise Pascal summed it up pretty well: "We are only falsehood, duplicity, contradiction; we both conceal and disguise ourselves from ourselves." Duplicity is, at least, smart enough not to try to preach this explicitly...


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