But glossy they are. The whole look and feel of the movie, sensually shot by Robert Elswit, is a deluxe dip in fantasy-land. Even when we are ensconced in grayed-out office interiors instead of five-star hotels, the grubbiness is handsome.
For those who thought, as I did, that "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie spy vs. spy slugfest, was way too brutal for its britches, "Duplicity" will serve as an antidote. It's a romantic thriller that for the most part keeps the violence confined to words rather than blows. Perhaps the most violent scene in the movie comes very early on. Rival CEOs Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and Richard Garsik (Paul Giamatti) punch and kick each other on the tarmac in front of their private jets as their entourages recoil in horror. The men's loathing for each other is so livid that it's comic. The sequence is played out in extreme slow-motion, which gives it an almost National Geographic flavor. We could be watching two mastodons going at it.
The verbal parrying between Ray and Claire is modeled on the sophisticated 1930s and '40s comedies of directors such as Ernst Lubitsch and Howard Hawks ("His Girl Friday" especially). Not all of Gilroy's witticisms are up to par, though. There's a big difference between bright and trying-to-be-bright.