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Body Double

Dual-movie-review-karen-gillan-aaron-paul
Sundance Institute

MOVIE REVIEW
Dual (2022)

"Dual" is a darkly funny entry in doppelganger cinema that could have been titled "Dead Ringers" or "Enemy" or "Black Swan," since there are some limits to the themes that get tackled in this area. But "The Clone Wars" would be ideal. Set in an imprecise nowhere of coniferous forest and pinched English accents – and actually made in Tampere, Finland – the seemingly prosaic society in Riley Stearns's film can offer you a clone of yourself. Useful should you, say, be suffering from a terminal illness and want it to take your place, or if you just fancy committing suicide. The new you can be rustled up in the lab in an hour, like knocking together a casserole.

Sarah (Karen Gillan) does the deed after being given bad medical news; but trouble starts when it turns out she's not actually going to die. The law in such cases requires the original and the clone to engage in mortal combat, and Sarah reluctantly engages the services of combat trainer Trent (Aaron Paul) to get her into suitably lethal shape. It does seem, however, that Sarah's awful mother and terrible boyfriend do rather prefer the company of the copy.

Mr. Stearns made "The Art of Self-Defense," a comedy where the humor about masculinity and violence was not so much dry as parched. "Dual" has a parallel spirit, possibly even chillier through the starkly antiseptic interiors and the stoic Northern landscapes the characters traipse through outdoors. The odd collection of Received Pronunciation British accents aren't the only thing here that makes a viewer think of "Black Mirror," or further back up the tributaries of British TV to Chris Morris. Ms. Gillan uses her American voice, but in this company it might have added to the unsettling effect if she had stuck with the one from Inverness. It all gets unpleasant for one of the Sarahs, who discovers among other things that if your state-mandated duel to the death is postponed by rain, the paperwork is a nightmare.

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