By Amanda Gilmore
After learning she has a terminal illness, Sarah (Karen Gillan) decides to participate in a futuristic cloning procedure to help ease her partner and family’s impending loss. Ten months later, she learns that she’s in remission and decides to decommission her clone. However, Sarah’s Double files a motion to live and they are set for a duel to the death.
Writer/Director Riley Stearns’ third Feature is a dark Sci-Fi Comedy with a pair of powerful performances from Gillan. Dual is an often strange film that tells the story of how impending death makes us evaluate our existence. His use of deadpan satire makes for a unique, fun watch. Particularly when it comes to the diverging lives of Sarah and her Double.
Gillan is perfectly cast and allows the audience to believe in this odd futuristic world. She excels as both Sarah and her Double, turning in two compelling performances. As Sarah, she effectively portrays her dissatisfaction with the life she’s found herself living. As the Double, she excels at showing the clone’s curiosity for life. Out of the Supporting Cast, Aaron Paul (who plays Sarah’s combat trainer) turns in a deadpan comedic performance that impeccably reflects the world Stearns has created.
Overall, Dual is an intriguing high-concept film and its steady pace grips the audience into Sarah’s world. The ending might leave audiences unsatisfied, however, it does leave us with a question: is an unhappy life worth killing for?
Dual screens virtually at Sundance:
Premiere: Jan. 22 at 8PM EST
Second Screening: Jan. 25 at 10AM EST (available for 24hrs)