After receiving a terminal diagnosis, Sarah commissions a clone of herself to ease the loss for her friends and family. When she makes a miraculous recovery, her attempt to have her clone decommissioned fails, and leads to a court-mandated duel to the death.
The minute I realized the deadpan nature of most of the cast’s delivery, I exclaimed, “Oh shit, this has to be by Riley Stearns!” In 2019, I saw The Art Of Self-Defense, and the stylized nature of the dialogue has stuck with me ever since. Festivals can be a blur. I usually enjoy going into a screening blind. Either that or I can’t remember a damn thing by the time I’ve consumed 20+ films. Lucky for me, DUAL was my final watch. It was on my dance card immediately because of Gillan and Paul. I’m a big fan of Doctor Who and Westworld, and this plot sounded like a combo of the two worlds. I wasn’t necessarily wrong from a storyline and humor perspective.
There’s a blunt absurdity to it everything in this film. The indifferent nature of this emotionally complex scenario makes it cringe-worthy in the best way possible. There is no filter on anyone. Aaron Paul is Trent, Sarah’s Death Dual coach. He’s so zen and focused you cannot help but smirk every time he speaks. Could I watch him dance every day of the week? You’re damn right. Would I hire his character to teach me to disassociate violence and be a badass? Every time. Karen Gillan plays both original and clone Sarah. They are two distinct but equally fascinating characters. As original Sarah, her dispassionate personality is jarring. Once her training begins, Gillan’s past roles come in handy. As her clone, she gets to play Sarah with a bit more uppity finesse. Besides her tone, Gillan’s physicality made me laugh out loud. The 110% commitment by these actors makes DUAL so damn entertaining. Beyond the sci-fi aspect, it’s the emotional depth and darkness that hits me harder a day after watching. Riley Stearns, you wily bastard. You got me again.
To read more of Liz WHittemore's writing go to her regular home at Reel News Daily