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Film / Duplicity

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Duplicity is a 2009 American film written and directed by Tony Gilroy, and starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. The film was released on March 20, 2009.

Corporate espionage meets romance.

The plot of the film follows Ray Koval, an MI6 agent, and Claire Stenwick, a CIA operative who cooperate in a con poised to undercut a company who has discovered a cure for baldness and sell the formula, running off with the money themselves.

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Anachronic Order: We jump from how Ray and Claire first met to the present day, and then back to the other times they've met, and so on.
  • Answer Cut: When Claire and Ray meet up in Rome (after their initial meet in Cairo), and Claire remembers what she did to Ray in Cairo (seduced him, drugged him, and stole secrets from him), she knows he wants to retaliate, and asks, "What did you have in mind? Some sort of vengeance?" Cut to the outside of a hotel room in Rome, with a "Do Not Disturb" sign (written in Italian) hanging on the doorknob.
  • Asian and Nerdy: The Asian Dinesh is the computer expert for Garsik's team and aids in finding a way to photocopy the supposed formula.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Garsik's men may be corporate spies, but they let Ray leave unharmed after firing him for stealing.
  • Fake Defector: Dale the security man pretends to be trying to steal Tully's new product to manipulate the people really trying to steal it into stealing worthless data.
  • Foreshadowing: During the opening credits, Howard and Dick get into an argument that turns into a fight, and Howard is winning by the time the credits end; over the course of the movie, Howard ends up triumphing over Dick again in a different kind of contest.
  • Gambit Pileup: Their primary gambit requires an increasing number of sub-gambits all of which are rendered moot by Howard Tully's Batman Gambit that trumps them all.
  • Happily Ever After: Hilariously subverted.
    Ray: At least we have each other.
    Claire: It really is that bad, isn't it?
    Ray: Kind of, yeah.
  • In Medias Res: The story shifting back and forth in time.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's a lotion, not a skin cream.
  • Ironic Echo: When the head of Equikrom's espionage unit is telling his boss about the history of Ronny Patiz, he mentions that Ronny made some kind of lotion. The boss asks if it was a cream or a lotion. Toward the end of the film, when Ray and Claire are selling Ronny's formula for a hair-growth shampoo to the Swiss, they are told, "This formula is nothing but a common skin cream. Sorry, a lotion."
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Tully has no product. He knew all about the spies, and set up an elaborate hoax to waste their time and make Garsik look foolish. At the end, Garsik is announcing the miraculous new cure for baldness he just "developed" to the world, while the spies' buyer tells them that their "cure" is a worthless formula for skin lotion...
  • MockGuffin: The formula Claire and Ray are trying to steal doesn't exist; Howard only pretended there was one to embarrass Dick and fool Claire and Ray.
  • The Mole: Claire has been working as one inside Howard's company for over a year. Pam has also been a mole inside Garsik's, which is why Howard knows about what Claire and Ray are really up to.
  • One-Word Title: As a movie about spies, which are usually duplicitous.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: A gender-swapped version. Hottie Clive Owen chats up a frumpy woman as a ploy to get her to take him back to her office in order to access the company's computer network. His female colleague is not happy about this tactic, despite the fact that she pulled the same stunt in their first meeting, in order to steal some files Owen was carrying.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Howard just wanted to make Richard look foolish by having him chase his tail, and he succeeds in fooling Claire and Ray as well.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Ray, very much so.
  • Split Screen: Usually done to announce a Flashback.
  • Title In: New locations are introduced with on-screen text.
  • Worth It: When talking about how Ray seduced her, the Burkett & Randle travel services agent says it was completely worth it.
    • Also, in Rome, when Ray tells Claire they've been bad while staying in a hotel room for three straight days, they decide together it's been worth it.
  • Wunza Plot: On its movie poster - "She's ex-Cia. He's ex-MI-5, together they are stealing a fortune."