DUAL (2022) Reviews of Karen Gillan sci-fi thriller

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Dual is a 2022 science-fiction thriller about a woman who has to have a duel to the death with her own clone.

Written and directed by Riley Stearns (The Art of Self-Defense; Faults), loosely based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1846 novella, The Double.

The American-Finnish XYZ Films-Film Service Finland Oy co-productions stars Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3; Thor: Love and Thunder; Gunpowder Milkshake; Oculus), Aaron Paul, Beulah Koale, Maija Paunio, Andrei Alén, Kristofer Gummerus, June Hyde and Donat Balaj.

** For updated coverage of Dual – with the first trailer and release news – click here

After receiving a terminal diagnosis, Sarah (Karen Gillan) commissions a clone of herself to ease the loss for her friends and family. When she makes a miraculous recovery, her attempt to have her clone decommissioned fails and leads to a court-mandated duel to the death…

“Writer-director Riley Stearns does an excellent job of integrating comedy into the sci-fi story. Some of the jokes may seem out of place or in poor taste, but the writing helps everyone land. There are a number of moments where Dual will have audiences worried about what will happen next before an out of nowhere quip leads to laughter. It is a roller coaster of feelings.” AIPT

Dual wraps up as a very different movie than the opening scene presents. It’s an idiosyncratic character study with a few moments of violence to raise its stakes. One woman faced with her own death sounds inherently tragic. In Stearns and Gillans’ hands, it becomes a deeply funny, resonant, and authentic examination of vital relationships and life itself.” 3.5/4 Bloody Disgusting

Gillan is able to bring a distinction to her identical characters in the most subtlest of ways, which is even harder due to the intentionally staccato nature of the dialogue […] Dual is going to be one of those hidden sci-fi gems people discover on a streaming service and tell all of their friends to watch. It is a film that invites fan theories and encourages discussion after the credits roll.” Fangirl Freakout

Dual is a biting black comedy in the truest sense. It’s focused and immediately self-aware. Throughout the running time, we’re able to feel the utter madness of this dual. This is evident from the fact that the major part of the running time focuses on a training montage akin to a sports drama. Only, it’s a masterclass on how to exploit your license to kill.” High on Films

” …it’s enough that Dual adds a fresh sprinkle of doom to the already savage deadpan of Stearns’ previous work, and bitterly crystallizes the existential anxieties that have crushed down on so many of us with new weight since the pandemic started. That it also allows Karen Gillan to give two hilarious performances, both colder than death but at distinctly different temperatures, is just icing on the cake.” IndieWire

“Filmmaker Riley Stearns steadfastly diverts focus from this devolving into some big Hunger Games-style face-off, despite a cinematic opening starring crossbow-wielding Divergent actor Theo James battling his clone. Dual never pretends to revel in bombastic action beyond this attention-grabbing opener. The film is constantly toying with audience expectations; taking a darker, sinister road as opposed to what we may expect was welcomed with open arms.” Josh at the Movies

“What sounds like a relatively simple, straightforward narrative, however, isn’t. Stearns injects the deadpan drollery that’s defined his relatively short career as a filmmaker into Dual. As Sarah Prime and Sarah Beta, Karen Gillan delivers her lines with a monotone blankness that borders on the mechanical. Gillan deliberately sounds even more robotic here than she ever has as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s resident cyborg, Nebula.” Screen Anarchy

Dual boasts a fun concept that will undoubtedly draw audiences in. Writer/director Riley Stearns pairs social commentary with an effective dry sense of humor. Dual presents a fully-realized world that fascinates, but the questionable story and character choices stop this sci-fi from achieving greatness.” Showbiz Cheat Sheet

“As opposite-of-funny as much of this sounds, Dual is in fact a fairly astute comedy. The laughs come not from jokes so much as sharp jabs of truth — wince-inducing insights into the subjects most movies won’t touch, like our fear of death, intimacy and being forgotten […] There’s the superficial thriller plot, which points toward a knock-down, drag-out finale, and there’s the more identity-centric subtext, which delivers a different kind of punch entirely.” Variety

Dual had its world premiere at the virtual 2022 Sundance Festival on January 23rd 2022.

Deadline has reported that RLJE Films will release Dual theatrically in the USA. Said to be a “competitive bidding situation,” RLJE Films struck “a low-mid seven-figure deal for the film.”

Dual was a film we were targeting from the beginning of the Sundance Film Festival and it exceeded our expectations,” RLJE Films’ Chief Acquisition Officer, Mark Ward, said in a statement shared by Deadline. “We are happy to be working with our partners at XYZ Films yet again and can’t wait to release the film later this year.”

“Riley Stearns said: “I’m beyond thrilled to enter the next stage of this journey with the team at RLJE Films and I can’t wait for audiences to see a film which we all deeply care for.”

Filming locations:
Tampere, Finland

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