(*homocinematically inclined)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Reel Thoughts: Being Julia

Lord help me, I am about to sound just like the Hollywood sexists who’ve made it hell on fabulous actresses like Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Jill Clayburgh, Kathleen Turner and others. I decry the idea that older women can’t carry a film with grace and strength. But I have to say it … Julia Roberts, at least looking and acting like she does at the beginning of Duplicity, is not believable as the stunning woman Clive Owen would spot across a crowded Dubai party and immediately come on to — she looks more like an attractive 41-year-old soccer MILF you might flirt with at a PTA meeting.

Still, we have to allow America’s Sweetheart to grope her way back into the mortal fold the best way she can and join the rest of us human beings. But beyond that odd meet-cute-and-screw-you-later opening, Duplicity hits its groove as a who’s-scamming-who comedy, featuring a show-stopping comic performance by Carrie Preston (Star of Ready, OK!).

Much like the corporate intrigue of Michael Clayton (also directed by Tony Gilroy), Duplicity features people doing awful things to each other to get ahead in the health and beauty racket. Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti are effective but wasted as the heads of these two warring conglomerates, and Roberts and Owen are more than happy to fleece the both of them. Of course, who wouldn’t want to be sparring and sleeping with either Roberts or the drop-dead sexy and charming Owen?

The tricks within traps within treachery wear a bit thin by the end — and the ending is just one big twist ending too much, but the writing is snappy and the actors are all having a ball with their roles — so you might find yourself falling for Duplicity’s tricks. I myself thought, “Heh, you catch it if you can ... I’ll wait for Oceans 14.”

UPDATE: Duplicity is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.


  1. Yes, you are being sexist! Julia may be 41 but Clive is 44. Who else is someone in their mid-forties going to flirt with, especially if they have a history, some tartlet who might only be looking for money or their contemporary that they have a chance of conversation with? As someone who falls just between their ages, my rule for dating (I'm happily married now) had always been 5+/5-. By sticking to that, Clive would have the opportunity to choose between 39-49. This would keep their life experiences similar. No chance of talking about seeing Van Halen on tour and them not knowing who that is. So, yes, you are being extremely sexist. Just because we always see the older man going for the young chippie doesn't mean it's realistic. I applaud Tony Gilroy for trying to change that perception.

  2. Awww, lighten up! What I was saying was that Julia Roberts, America's Sweetheart, looked terrible in that scene. Her hair and makeup were frumpy and she played the scene in Dubai as an annoyed soccer mom. That's their first meeting, and I question why anyone, not just the hot and sexy Clive Owen, would pick THAT incarnation of Julia Roberts out of a crowd, even if all the other women were in burkas. Joan Crawford also had trouble accepting when she was too mature to have other characters refer to her as "a fine looking girl", although Julia has a long way to go before becoming that sort of parody. I actually think it's nice that she is allowed to age on screen, but I also think that the dialogue in those meet-cute scenes should acknowledge that she's not a little tartlet (I LOVE that term, thanks!), and rather a beautiful mature woman. Snarky? Yes. Sexist, naaaah!