Clive Owen = B
I haven't really seen the appeal of Clive Owen, except for his brilliance in Closer, and this movie moves me slightly closer to believing that he's really, really great. That being said, Owen is simply good and decent in this film; he's more than a match for the cheeky dialogue that Gilroy sets up for him, but this isn't a film that sets him up for a truly great performance. It's an understated, slyly comic turn that doesn't aspire to anything greater than the movie does. It's a fun romp, like the movie. I think Owen fares a little bit worse than his co-star simply because he's often the butt of her character's jokes and has the less overtly acting-strong scenes.
Julia Roberts = B+
Roberts returns to her comic roots; she is one of our most gifted mainstream comediennes, and I think it's absolutely wonderful to see her in a movie that is worthy of her talent. Roberts has the most fun with the script I believe, and she also gets the juicier scenes and lines. I think the true beauty of Roberts in this is that she doesn't try to make her character as serious as a lesser actress might, she definitely realises that this has a significant comic edge and plays her character as such. This is clearly evident in her scene with the travel agent, where her cold expression is the best microcosm of the film; a dramatic situation given a comic vibe by the context. I really want to see more of these types of roles for Roberts, clearly in her prime in this kind of role and movie. A big thank you to Tony Gilroy!
Other Notable Performances:
Paul Giamatti - I only mention him because he's technically in a supporting role, but he's not very notable here. I found him very irritating, which I credit to both his performance and the character.
Tom Wilkinson - I found Wilkinson to be better, but he has about three scenes in this movie and doesn't make any real impact.
Carrie Preston - Preston makes much more of an impact in her two-scener than Giamatti and Wilkinson do combined, we cringe when she's introduced to Ray, and even moreso in her scene with Claire. A comic delight.
Overall Movie Grade = B+ (a very high B+, mind.)