First reviews land for Karen Gillan and Aaron Paul's new movie

·3-min read
Photo credit: Sundance
Photo credit: Sundance

Critics have passed their verdict on Dual, a new dark comedy starring Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul and Marvel star Karen Gillan, following its premiere at Sundance Film Festival over the weekend.

Written and directed by Riley Stearns (Faults, The Art of Self-Defense), the movie sees Gillan play Sarah, a terminally ill young woman who allows herself to be cloned so that her family and friends won't have to live without her. Well, a version of her, at least – the process ensures that the double would assume the original's life so seamlessly that her loved ones are none the wiser.

Not long after the procedure, though, Sarah starts to regret her decision, and her efforts to have the clone destroyed results in her being informed – via a court mandate, no less – that she'll have to fight it to the death if she wants to stop it taking over her life.

Photo credit: Sundance
Photo credit: Sundance

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Paul – who more recently appeared in Westworld – plays Trent, the trainer Sarah hires to help prepare her for battle. Sanna-June Hyde, Maija Paunio, Beulah Koale and Divergent star Theo James round out the supporting cast.

As it stands, Dual is yet to announce a UK or US release date, but that hasn't stopped those who have seen it from sharing their thoughts, and contributing towards its current 80% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes...

Here's a taste of what critics are saying about Dual:

Bloody Disgusting

"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."

Screen International

"The sci-fi concept is really just a fancy framework for Stearns to weave in much more low-tech satire about social discomfort, our all too easy acceptance of violence, corporate influence on our lives and existential crisis in general."

Indiewire

"Dual adds a fresh sprinkle of doom to the already savage deadpan of Stearns' previous work, and bitterly crystallises the existential anxieties that have crushed down on so many of us with new weight since the pandemic started."

Photo credit: Sundance
Photo credit: Sundance

The Wee Review

"An interesting premise offers the potentially for a sharp existential enquiry, but is too wedded to its style at the expense of depth. The intentional flatness, and arid, deadpan humour ensure some mileage early on, but narratively is revealed to be something of an empty shell."

The Hollywood Reporter

"Stearns' third feature (following Faults and The Art of Self-Defense) is his least satisfying so far; as visually drab as its predecessors, it has more difficulty mining its off-kilter aesthetic for nervous laughter and conceptual provocation."

Variety

As opposite-of-funny as much of this sounds, Dual is in fact a fairly astute comedy [...] Stearns keeps the surprises coming, as Dual skillfully operates on (at least) two levels: 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."

A release date for Dual has yet to be confirmed.

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