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Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Review - Dual

DUAL - Still 1
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Aaron Paul and Karen Gillan appear in Dual by Riley Stearns, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

Dual is screening in the U.S. Dramatic category - 4.5 suns

One of my Fest favorites, Dual brings a distinctive wry, morbid humour to this depiction of a society that’s somehow both bland and bloodthirsty.

In a U.S. of the near future, the suicidal or terminally ill can have themselves cloned, so a replacement can be left behind to comfort one’s friends and family. Just go down to the nearest cloning center, spit out some DNA, and a duplicate can be made in the time it takes for a tire rotation.

Unfortunately, there are many cases where stuff happens, and an Original doesn’t want to be replaced. The solution is to have the twins battle it out to the death, which has become sports entertainment.

The heroine of Dual (Duel?) Sarah (Karen Gillan) finds herself in this predicament and hires a personal trainer (Aaron Paul) to vest her with combat skills and a killer instinct.

Gillan (maybe best remembered as a Dr. Who companion) creates a character who is affectless and robotic, but somehow also earnest and confused at the same time. And that’s before we meet her copy.

Here’s hoping that more audiences get to appreciate the film. Writer/director Riley Stearns has created a minimalist sci-fi world, shooting in Finland during the lockdown.