TV

Acting match-ups benefit 'Duplicity,' 'Sunshine Cleaning'

The return of Julia Roberts in a romantic thriller was the selling point of Duplicity ($29.99/$39.98), written and directed by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), and it delivers charmingly if not emphatically on both fronts.

It's a pleasure to see Roberts as Claire, a CIA spy who finds herself competing with while being drawn romantically to an MI6 agent known as Ray (Clive Owen).

She burns him after a sexual interlude, which only makes the self-confident Ray angry but still attracted. Gilroy then creates a Byzantine plot that finds the couple traveling to picturesque locales (well, maybe not Cleveland) as they become involved with two cutthroat captains of industry (Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkerson) who are trying to out-maneuver each other for an economic prize.

While the story keeps you guessing and Gilroy delivers some satirical jabs at the corporate world, Roberts and Owen have their own appeal. Sparks fly between them — maybe not enough to generate a flame but enough to bring a warm glow. And Giamatti and Wilkerson are deliciously evil in their roles.

Duplicity aims for the elegance of a Cary Grant caper film — To Catch a Thief or Charade — something that relies on wit and cleverness rather than gunplay and car chases for its suspense. It nearly succeeds, and on its own, it's a pleasurable and entertaining movie.

In Sunshine Cleaning ($29.98/ $39.98) Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play sisters, both desperate for a change in their lives, who go into business together, sanitizing messy crime scenes and sites of suicides. The film has an offbeat quirkiness similar to that of Little Miss Sunshine. It is easy to pick apart some of Cleaning's contrivances, but Adams and Blunt dig so deeply into their roles that you're captivated even if some of the film doesn't make sense. Some nice supporting performances by Lexington resident Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Clifton Collins Jr. also put you in a forgiving mood.

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