An intriguing concept is fumbled early on in Dual, a high-concept sci-fi drama with a robotic script, unlikable characters, and a talented Karen Gillan left out to dry.
When Sarah (Gillan) is diagnosed with an incurable disease, she decides to clone herself and provide a “Replacement” in order to ease the loss for her friends and family, though when the clone is no longer needed, her world becomes more challenging. Cloning itself is nothing new in sci-fi, but the idea that Dual plays with, that of an unnecessary clone pushing back, is quite fascinating. Writer/director Riley Stearns has crafted a unique approach to the story here, but unfortunately fails to craft anything that begs the empathy of the viewers. The exploration of what one’s life means in the face of challenges is but a minor notion in this odd film. Gillan is fine in her performance, both as Sarah and Sarah’s Double, but the writing doesn’t do enough to distinguish between the two, resulting in the lack of a challenge for the actress. She basically is playing the same exact role twice, deadpan deliveries and all.
This really is what one should expect from the filmmaker of The Art of Self Defense as Stearns has a distinctive style that he, in my opinion, either nails in a film or misses the landing completely. Dual falls into the latter for me with Gillan’s character not interesting enough to hold my attention and a frustrating failure to use the rest of the cast, namely the largely shelved Aaron Paul. Though it boasts some stars, it feels like a film lacking a proper budget for the concept with no discernible attributes, even in look. With a more focused, dynamic script, Dual could have been a standout. Instead, it’s just another lackluster sci-fi entry.
Photo from Sundance