In DUAL, upon receiving a terminal diagnosis, Sarah (Karen Gillan) opts for a cloning procedure to ease her loss on her friends and family. When she makes a sudden and miraculous recovery, her attempts to have her clone decommissioned fail and lead to a court-mandated duel to the death. Now she has one year to train her body and mind for the fight of her life.
For in-depth thoughts on Dual, please see my colleague Michael Cook’s review from its Sundance Film Festival premiere here.
Dual comes to Blu-Ray with a terrific AVC encoded 1080p transfer that showcases the look of the film really well. The cinematography features few pops of color beneath the cooler grading of the film where only blood, foliage and certain articles of clothing really stand out. That is not a knock against the look of the film; the color palette mimics the kind of dull and lifeless existence of Sarah before she has to fight for her life. Where the transfer really shines is the impressive level of detail both in the production design and textures of the clothing. Everything from the bleak interiors to the tactile nature of the costumes is quite impressive. The picture is mostly clear with only brief instances of murkiness during a few of the more shadowy scenes. Black levels are admirable but could be a bit deeper for full effectiveness. Skin tones are natural throughout with some impeccable details present in certain shots such as smeared blood or scrapes. Overall, this is quite a detailed transfer that should please audiences.
The film comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is rich and well balanced without being pushed to the limits. Dialogue comes through crisp and clear without being overshadowed by any of the other sounds. The music maintains a nice fidelity throughout while establishing the tone of the narrative. Activity in the low end is very subtle and is mostly used to add a bit of texture to some of the more kinetic moments such as the opening duel. Environmental effects play a robust role in the film, and this track brings these elements to life quite capably. The use of the rear channels to create a fully three-dimensional world works quite well. The directionality is quite precise so sounds always emanate from their natural points. RLJE Films has delivered a great track for this film. This release comes with English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
- Audio Commentary: Writer/Director Riley Stearns provides a really fun and informative commentary track in which he discusses the making of this film during COVID, the role that Jesse Eisenberg almost played, the allusions to The Art of Self Defense, the generous nature of the performers, coming up with names for fake porn videos, trial testing the best way to have pennies fall out of your mouth, shooting in Finland, giving Karen Gillan driving lessons, understanding that the audience apparently needs time to adjust to his sense of humor at times, and much more that is worth a listen.
- The Making Of Dual: A ten-minute featurette in which the cast and creative team discuss the draw of the story, the feeling of loneliness, the characters in the film and the performers who bring them to life, working with a majority Finnish crew, the VFX work with the clones, and more.
Dual is far from a perfect film, but it has a pitch black tone that will really speak to a specific audience. Writer/Director Riley Stearns cannot quite reach the bleak brilliance of his previous film, The Art of Self-Defense, but he continues to explore themes of alienation with a morbid curiosity. The distinct, incredible performance from Karen Gillan and the rest of the talented ensemble helps smooth over some of the deficiencies in the script. Even more so than his previous effort, this film takes a little bit of time to acclimate to, but I can say it does play better on a repeat viewing. RLJE Films has released a Blu-Ray with a rock solid A/V presentation and a couple of brief special features. If you are a fan of Stearns or the performers, this one is more than worth seeking out if you understand the darkly humorous world you are entering into. Recommended
Dual will be available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD on July 19, 2022.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: RLJE Films has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.