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Reel Review: Undeniable chemistry makes ‘Duplicity’ crackle

Corporate espionage within the cosmetics industry doesn’t sound all that sexy or entertaining. But I have feeling that the crackling on-screen chemistry between Julia Roberts and Clive Owen would burst off the screen with a plot line about watching paint dry - just like it does in “Duplicity.”

Thanks to the classy, modern touch and sharp screenplay of writer/director Tony Gilroy, “Duplicity” stands on more than just the undeniable chemistry that these two marquis stars generate in their roles as corporate spies. The plot is complex and keeps you on your toes (and sometimes completely confused) with countless twists and turns that feel more like inspired dancing than cheap plot devices.

Even with some unnecessary and sometimes repetitive scenes that prolong the film a bit more than necessary, the sparks that fly between Roberts and Owen are enough to keep you thoroughly interested. But if it were anyone else paired up on that screen, “Duplicity” could have been a self-indulgent disaster, though with some welcome relief from outstanding supporting cast members Paul Giamiatti and Tom Wilkinson as rival chief executives.

After the disaster of his last film, “The International,” it’s inspiring to see Owen return to his strengths in the sexy, smart and intriguing roles that made him a star in the first place. Roberts delivers nothing you haven’t already seen throughout her successful career, but if you found her charming before, you will most certainly remain on her bandwagon.

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Personally, I didn’t realize I missed her during her relative absence from filmmaking the past few years. That is, until I saw her on the screen being her quintessential, charming self.

If you’re looking for a sophisticated, sexy romp in an updated classic Hollywood style, have no doubts about “Duplicity” - and expect to see Owen and Roberts paired up again in the years to come.

‘Duplicity’

Rated PG-13

Grade: A-

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