An aspiring filmmaker is sitting at a table vaguely working on a script. He knows that he wants to make a film, but he doesn’t know what kind of a film to make. In which genre should he write? What should be the point of this script? Then his friend/roommate joins him at the table and belittles him for being a slacker. He tells his friend that he should try to write something simple, like two guys sitting at a table talking. What should they be talking about? Who knows? But it should be witty and funny and stylized.
The joke is that the script they’re talking about is the short film we’re watching. While it tries hard to be clever, “Duplicity” simply is not funny. It’s unfunny because it is simply an exercise in frustration, and while any aspiring screenwriter/filmmaker can understand the dilemma presented here, the necessity for such a short film is questionable. Movies about the filmmaking process are a tired sort. While a few have managed to break the mold—“Sullivan’s Travels,” “The Big Picture,” “And God Spoke,” and “Adaptation”—most present an enigmatic dilemma: while watching a movie, can we, who aren’t interested in making movies, find the concept of making movies funny?
In the case of “Duplicity” the answer is no.