In the offbeat dark comedy Dual, a woman discovers she’s dying and decides to clone herself. When her diagnosis changes, she opts to learn combat techniques with Aaron Paul to battle her clone to the death.
From Riley Stearns, the writer/director behind the excellent The Art of Self Defense and the very good Faults, Dual continues with his brand of slightly off kilter characters, intentionally awkward dialogue, and plotting that teeters between grounded and downright unpredictable. There’s a lot to like about Dual, but unfortunately this one doesn’t quite come together the way Stearns’ last two films have.
Starring Karen Gillan, who plays two very similar but not identical characters, the movie starts strong thanks to its clever concept and mechanics. Gillan is great–her character isn’t particularly likable, to the degree that both her boyfriend and mother decide that her clone is preferable to her; she relishes in the dark irony of such a circumstance. Paul is perfectly cast as her trainer.
Stearns is a terrific writer, but with so many concept films, he struggles to carry it across the finish line. As the story progresses, it begins to lose its edge and forward momentum, to the degree to which the ending doesn’t really matter. The journey is worth a viewing, but it’s certainly not dueling over.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.