June 2, 2022

GENRE | Karen Gillan Doubles Herself – 'Dual' x Rupture

"I'm looking for an outfit to die in."
Karen Gillan Riley Stearns | Dual
RLJE Films / VVS Films
Actress Karen Gillan stars as both a terminally ill woman and her clone replacement in filmmaker Riley Stearns' dystopian sci-fi satire thriller. Delivered entirely through absurdist deadpan performances, the very bleak Dual is about quite literally confronting yourself and your own emotional baggage.

Stearns’ trademark ultra-dry, detached direction (think Yorgos Lanthimos) embodied in his actors' rigidly affectless dialogue fit the sterile world he’s created—shot entirely in the Finnish city of Tampere (standing for Anytown, USA) during the height of pandemic lockdowns. Using a sort of retro-future stylization and treating some truly preposterous plot developments in a mundane, matter-of-fact manner, Dual explores the general malaise or dissatisfaction of everyday life.

A very self-assured Aaron Paul co-stars as Gillan's personal trainer tasked with improving her health and fitness in order to face off against her clone who's trying to literally replace her and take over her life. Everyone has the same, consistent method of straight-faced, flat-voiced line reading and acting that makes the dark as hell humour of the ultra surreal film so uncomfortably affecting yet also oddly aloof.

Stearns and Gillan craft an amusing extended metaphor for the complexities of human emotions and depression by novelly somehow removing genuine feelings from their depiction. Dual makes for an effective (if peculiar) and deeply cynical lo-fi thriller about the numbness of self-preservation.

Dual screens as part of the 2022 Rupture film festival at the VIFF Centre on June 11th and 14th. It will be available to stream through video on demand starting June 28th.


More | Indiewire / Polygon / Uproxx

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