Diagnosed with a terminal illness, Sarah (Karen Gillan) is having a tough time coping the news. Her doctor encourages her to explore a procedure known as “Replacement,” where a biotech company creates an identical clone within a few hours. Acting hastily, Sarah agrees to undergo the procedure and commits to spending her remaining weeks teaching her clone everything about her personal preferences, routines, likes, and dislikes. As her clone begins to become a better version of herself, Sarah goes into remission. This creates a situation where by law one of the two Sarahs must be destroyed. As mandated by the government, Sarah must participate in a duel to the death with her clone.
“Dual” features a very dark and very funny premise for a feature film. The sci-fi elements are seamlessly woven into the macabre story, and the black humor is terrific. The tone is very similar to writer / director Riley Stearns‘ 2019 film “The Art of Self-Defense,” so if you liked that film, you’ll probably enjoy this, too. Aaron Paul is amusing as a personal trainer to Sarah, teaching her evasive maneuvers, sharing his experience with deadly weapons, and helping her develop a ruthless killer instinct. While Sarah becomes bloodthirsty, her boyfriend (Beulah Koale) and mom (Maija Paunio) start to prefer the double to the original.
Stearns has a deliberate, measured rhythm to his writing style, and the cast excels with a matter-of-fact, deadpan line delivery. Gillan acts against herself in several scenes, and she sells the idea that she’s speaking to her clone. The actors commit fully, and Stearns pulls no punches with his confident, absurd directorial technique. The efficient storytelling and brisk pacing make the script even funnier as it hits all the high notes. You may be cringing through the laughter, but you’ll still be laughing. This is a film where it ended with me still wanting more.
Savvy and clever, I really loved “Dual.” This is one amusing, oddball movie.