Sunday 12 June 2022

REVIEW: Dual (2022) - Starring Karen Gillan, Beulah Koale, Theo James and Aaron Paul

Review by Jon Donnis
I've liked Karen Gillan since she played Amy Pond in Doctor Who and then more recently in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. So, when I heard about Dual, a sci-fi film about clones, I jumped at the chance to see it.

The film opens with a scene in a sports field, with two men fighting each other to the death, with an audience and a cameraman watching. One of the men stabs the other and as we pan out, we realise that the man on the floor looks identical to the man who just killed him. We quickly learn that the "double" (clone) won the fight, and the original is dead.

Set in what I assume is the near future, Sarah (played by Karen Gillan) is in a dull relationship with her boyfriend Peter (Beulah Koale), she is depressed and is drinking too much.  One day after a bad dream, she wakes up to blood all over her pillow and bed. She goes to the hospital and after vomiting more blood, she gets seen by a Doctor. After initial tests she is informed that she is ill and should go home and rest. Over Zoom, Peter informs her that she mistakenly gave his details to the Doctor, and that he has been told that she has a terminal disease. After going back to the Doctor and having it confirmed to her that she has 0% chance of survival, she arranges to have a clone of herself created, so that when she dies her clone can replace her, and then her loved ones wouldn't have to deal with the pain of losing her.

A slight mistake in the cloning process leaves Sarah's clone, with different coloured eyes. Sarah talks to the clone and passes on various information about her life, her interests etc.

A few months later and Sarah finds out that she is in complete remission from the disease, and is no longer going to die. She quickly goes to her mother's house to give her the good news, but finds Peter and the clone there. Sarah's double has been secretly seeing Peter and been in contact with her mother for months. Now the truth has come out, Sarah wants life to go back to normal, and for the clone to be "decommissioned", but Sarah soon finds out that both Peter and her mother prefer the clone.

Things get worse when Sarah finds out that her clone has seen a lawyer, and wants to stay alive, therefore by the law they will have to fight to the death to decide who is the only Sarah left to live.

Sarah has a year to prepare for this fight to the death, so seeks out Trent a trainer, (Aaron Paul) to get her fit, teach her various fighting techniques, as well as help her learn to tolerate the violence she will need to be part of, to survive.

This really is a strange film, it is something of a dark comedy, and everything is delivered in a very deadpan way. Both of the Sarah characters are played almost emotionless, and Karen Gillan is putting on a strange accent which further makes things just seem weird. It appears that the Sarah character has some form of autism, although that is never addressed in the film.

Despite the strange delivery of the film, I did find myself glued to it. Karen Gillan is a great actress, and she proves here she has quite the range as an actress.

I am sure that there is supposed to be some kind of deep meaning about self, the nature of life, and all that crap that people who read the Guardian like to talk about, but in the real-world people just want to know if a film is entertaining and worth watching. And this is a film that you will either love or hate. It is a really niche feeling film. And I can imagine a lot of people finding the film boring, and the ending a bit flat and predictable.

The Good
Karen Gillan delivers a totally unique character for her, and the story will make you think and ask the question, "what would you do?". And any film that makes the viewer think has to be good, right?

The Bad
Long periods of not a lot happening, and a flat predictable ending do drag this film down.

This is a tough one, I am not quite sure how I feel about this film.

I will play it safe and score Dual a fair 6/10. I think that it could have done a lot more with the basic story.

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