By Nick DelVescovo
“Dual,” which is directed by Riley Stearns, takes us into a modern sci-fi world where, upon terminal illness, patients have the ability to clone themselves to save loved ones from the mourning process. When faced with an incurable fatal illness, Sarah (Karen Gillan) decides to go through this process and clone herself. After miraculously overcoming the illness, Sarah now faces the moral and physical battle of legally having to fight her clone to the death.
While the premise may sound simple and immature, “Dual” has an impressive screenplay that is carried by Gillan's lifeless but impactful performance. Along with Gillan stars Aaron Paul, who plays Sarah’s trainer. Paul has surprisingly entertaining chemistry with Gillan and matches her character’s apathetic energy. Going into this film I was unsure of the genre and tone that it was going to take. “Dual” has elements of drama, thriller and suspense, but overall it is a dark comedy. The humor is dry and satirical about human life and death, and the direction is very sharp and stylized. While I have my issues with this movie, it does a great job of capturing a bleak and gray world while also making you laugh.
The main praise I have for “Dual” is its clever writing and storytelling. The double entendre in its name itself can give a pretty good look into how witty this movie is. The dark themes of mortality, murder and desensitization to violence create a unique feeling when coupled with the dark and dry comedy that “Dual” presents. There's a particular moment in the movie that shows something so morally wrong you can't help but laugh, and that is what a lot of this movie’s essence is about. The closest film I can relate “Dual” to is Yorgos Lanthimos’s “The Lobster.” It has the same dark comedy with satirical themes about human society.
The biggest issue I had with “Dual” is its third act. There was so much to love in the first hour of the movie, but unfortunately, the last thirty minutes fizzled out and didn’t have as much of an impact on me as I’d hoped. There are some loose ends that could’ve been resolved and the ending had a puzzling vagueness to it. The story is wrapped up and it doesn’t end abruptly, I just wasn’t a fan of the direction of the final act of the film.
With that being said, the creative direction and amusing writing left me wanting more from Stearns. If anything “Dual” made me hopeful and excited for what Stearns has to offer in the future. While there are flaws and things I wasn’t the biggest fan of, “Dual” is still worth the watch.