I’ve never really been much of a convert to the idea of watching films on very small screens. As such, I’d, until this point, yet to indulge in the idea of buying a download to watch on an iPod screen. I’d been tempted with TV episodes in the past, but a feature film? It just didn’t really compute in my head.
Yet having a mooch around the iTunes store, and I couldn’t help but feel in the minority. The explosion in video content offered by the service suggests that many people are finding the screen of an iPod perfect fodder for their entertainment. Then I remembered that in my younger years, I bought the widescreen VHS copy of Alien, and then sat and watched it on a 14″ portable telly. In for a penny, I figured, and decided to give things a try
I’m using an iPod Touch at the moment, which has the benefit of a larger screen than the Classic I was using once upon a time. And thus I had some optimism as Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity made its way onto my player’s drive. I’d quite enjoyed the film at the cinema, particularly the moments with Paul Giamatti, and I figured it wouldn’t be a bad caper to watch on the smaller screen. Thus, on a long train journey recently, I sat down and put all this to the test.
My inclination, a couple of hours later, was that the screen of the iPod Touch is ideal for watching something in bed or in the car, and I find it better than I was expecting for watching a feature. It’s no substitute for a proper screen, of course, and I struggle at the idea of paying £11 for a full download of a film that I could buy on DVD at the moment for a pound more at Amazon – at least at the time of writing – but the £3.99 fee to rent the film seems more attractive, and more suited to the limited storage space on an iPod anyway.
The film? My view on it was largely unchanged. I love the soundtrack to it a lot – Duplicity arguably has one of the best scores of the year – and Giamatti is quite brilliant in a supporting role. And it’s a fun caper, too, pairing Clive Owen and Julia Roberts as the pair who don’t-trust-each-other-but-will-sleep-with-each-other. Owen and Roberts are trying to get hold of a secret new product for their paymaster, but Tony Gilroy’s script has a lot of fun with the concept of working out just who’s supposed to be playing who. The screenplay struggles with the constant flashing back and forth, but it’s still confident work, as you’d expect from the man who previously brought us Michael Clayton (and served scribbling duties on the Bourne movies).
The film’s problem, though, lies in its central pair. I never, at any point, bought Owen and Roberts as a couple, and the former in particular seems in a role to which he’s ill suited. Given that he’s front and centre of the movie for long periods, this is a problem that Duplicity never really gets around. It’s not that he turns in a bad performance, it just feels like he was the wrong choice.
Still, Duplicity remains fun stuff, and you can overlook its problems, it does have an engaging charm to it. You can pick it up now, if you want to try this iPod thing yourself, over at the iTunes store…
£10.99 to buy, £3.99 to rent