Saturday, March 21, 2009

"The Smile" Does a "Comeback"

Julia's Back and Clive's Got Her - But Back from What?
"Nine years between star vehicles is an eternity in Hollywood, but in Julia Roberts' case, 'Duplicity' is more than worth the wait." --Lou Lumenick

I love Lou Lumenick but I don't know what he means when he writes that Roberts has been gone for nine years. According to Lou, the last Roberts film of any consequence was her Oscar-winning "Erin Brockovich" (2000).

But since then, Roberts has appeared in 13 films and several of them - "The Mexican" and "America's Sweethearts" (both 2001), "Mona Lisa Smile" (2003), "Closer" (2004) and "Charlie Wilson's War" (2007) - were lead roles. She also lent her talents to three films by her "Erin Brockovich" director, Steven Soderbergh ("Full Frontal," Ocean's Eleven" and Ocean's Twelve"), and two animated voiceovers ("The Ant Bully" and "Charlotte's Web"). I don't know about you but that seems like more work than the last three "best actress" Oscar winners (Helen Mirren, Marion Cotillard and Kate Winslet) combined. Julia's comeback?

Come on, she's never been away.

As far as "Duplicity" is concerned, I loved it. But I'm glad I'm not reviewing professsionally anymore because I would have to pretend - the way every other working critic has - that I even remotely understood it.

Frankly, I have no idea whatsoever what this film is about or what goes on it in. But the combination of Roberts and Clive Owen, the first-rate supporting cast, the glamorous locations and Kevin Thompson's glossy-magazine production design makes Tony Gilroy's film hugely watchable.

You'll be reading a lot about Julia and Clive, so I'll devoted myself to the superb cast of actors that surround them and make them look great.

There's Paul Giamatti (who starred with Owen in "Shoot 'Em Up") and Carrie Preston (the only other female in the film), both of whom were in Roberts' "My Best Friend's Wedding"; Tom Wilkinson, who appeared with Giamatti in HBO's "John Adams"; the great stage actress Kathleen Chalfant (the original star of "Wit"); ace filmmaker Tom McCarthy ("The Station Agent" and "The Visitor"), above, and Denis O'Hare, a Broadway staple who is quickly becoming a film staple. But more about the ubiquitous O'Hare later.


Lou Lumenick said...

Joe, she may have gotten star billing for some of these films -- she is actually off-screen most of time in what amounts to a supporting role in "Charlie Wilson's War'' -- but no film has truly centered on a star turn by her since "Erin Brockovich.''

jkaiser said...

Saw "Duplicity" on Monday, fun fun fun movie. Great ending, actually took me by surprise which is very hard for a movie to do. As for O'Hare, I first noticed him in the most recent version of "Once Upon a Mattress" a couple of years ago then after that started noticing him in a slew of "Law & Order" repeats playing all forms of suspects. Great actor. Nice to see him getting recognition.

joe baltake said...

Hi, Lou--

I know what you mean about "Erin Brocovich" being a star turn, but if you look closely at Roberts' filmograhy, you'll find that "Erin" is a rarity in her career. More often than not, she shared the screen with her male co-star ("Conspiracy Theory," "Pretty Woman" and "Runaway Bride," "The Pelican Brief" and "I Love Trouble," to name a few). Her "star" vehicles were, in my opinion, minor - "Dying Young" and "Sleeping with the Enemy" (although I enjoyed both, particularly the latter). With "Duplicity," she seems to be back on track as a leading lady to a leading man. BTW, love your blog.