By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Mature content in odd but touching dark sci-fi comedy.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie's main theme is idea of rediscovering life thanks to a brush with death. But the dark ending raises question of what, if anything, actually makes that newly appreciated life worth living.
Positive Role Models
Sarah reinvents herself over the course of the movie, turning from a sad shut-in to a vibrant woman with notable skills. Her motivation for this is selfish, but the result is positive. Also, her combat instructor, Trent, is like a favorite teacher, tough but fair.
Main character is a woman who makes positive changes over the course of the movie. Of the two other main characters (both male), one is of Samoan heritage.
Inclusion information: Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors
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Violence & Scariness
Shooting with crossbow, arrows piercing person's chest. Stabbing with knife, multiple times (off camera). Bloody wounds shown. Character wakes up with blood all over her pillow and sheets. Character with severed thumb, slowly dripping blood. Small dog accidentally shot in eye with crossbow, killed. Creepy nightmare sequence: Person eats and vomits up pennies. Person shown hanged by the neck in informational video. Watching a video in which character gets hand chopped off by a garbage disposal; lots of blood, stabbing. Gory photos. Mortician begins an autopsy on a dead body, slicing skin, breaking ribs (off camera). Dialogue about a child abduction.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Audio from porn heard on character's computer; she begins masturbating (off camera) but is interrupted. Kissing. A character takes a magazine called Best Butts into the bathroom. Sex-related dialogue. Naked female corpse.
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Sporadic use of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character drinks whiskey and beer frequently for first half of movie. Half-drunk bottle on her nightstand. She's told not to drink by a doctor but drinks anyway, then quits drinking halfway through movie to focus on her training.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dual is a dark sci-fi comedy about a woman (Karen Gillan) who's diagnosed with a fatal disease and decides to clone herself, only to learn that she's going to live. Violence includes characters being shot with arrows, stabbing (off-screen), bloody wounds, a huge blood stain on sheets and pillows, characters watching videos that include suicide by hanging, and a bloody severed hand. An autopsy is performed on a fully naked female corpse. Porn noises are heard on a computer, and a woman begins masturbating but is interrupted. A couple kiss, and there are other sexual situations and sex-related dialogue. Language includes sporadic uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "bitch." The main character drinks a lot (she wakes up with a half-empty whiskey bottle on her nightstand) but doesn't appear to have an alcohol dependency; she eventually quits. The movie is made with confident precision and is very funny and even touching, if fairly downbeat.
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Based on 1 parent review
Can't believe this is a recomendation for my 14 year old.
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What's the Story?
In DUAL, Sarah (Karen Gillan) lives a passive life, drinking too much and chatting with her out-of-town boyfriend, Peter (Beulah Koale). After waking up with blood on her pillow, Sarah learns that she has a rare, fatal disease with no cure. She decides to clone herself in order to leave a part of herself behind for Peter and her mother (Maija Paunio). Months later, Sarah is still alive -- and the Sarah double has taken over her life and even stolen Peter. And then Sarah learns that she's not dying after all. When she tries to decommission the double, the double calls for a duel to the death. So with a year to get ready, Sarah starts training with survival specialist Trent (Aaron Paul). But even her new skills can't prepare her for what's next.
Is It Any Good?
A downbeat sci-fi tale mixed with dark, dry comedy, this funny, genuinely surprising, and surprisingly touching gem works beautifully thanks to its confident palette and committed performances. The third feature by writer-director Riley Stearns, Dual firmly establishes him as a filmmaker with a specific visual and tonal style, as well as one who's unafraid to explore tough themes of humanity. (It's hard not to recall his The Art of Self-Defense.) The movie opens with a swash of shocking violence (featuring Theo James) to set the tone and to establish the title's nifty double meaning, and then it introduces Gillan's Sarah in a brilliant sequence that checks off everything we need to know about her. It's only then that we might realize that this stuff is slyly funny; the humor creeps up on us.
Gillan's perfectly modulated performance provides most of the laughs. She's deadpan, to be sure, but she allows some emotion at the edge of her performance. Her line deliveries are sprinkled with uncertainty and self-doubt, and the mix makes her both hilarious and lovable. Dual gets even better when Gillan gets to act with herself -- and better still when Paul comes into the picture. His delivery is intense but gentle, and he complements her beautifully, especially in a scene where he asks her for a special favor. After a smattering of brutal moments mixed with sumptuous ones, the movie eventually takes a somewhat pessimistic turn -- it doesn't let viewers off easily -- but it also feels like a shared, existential experience. In this world, we're all laughing and crying together.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Dual's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it exciting? Shocking? What did the movie show or not show to achieve this effect? Why is that important?
How is sex depicted here? Does it involve power? Loneliness? Love? Trust?
How is drinking depicted? Is it glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?
What do you think of the idea of cloning as represented by this movie? Would you clone yourself? Would you want a loved one to clone themselves?
What do you make of the movie's ending? Why is the Sarah clone crying? What do you suppose the original Sarah is going to do? Is this a happy or sad ending? Both?
- In theaters: April 15, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: July 19, 2022
- Cast: Karen Gillan, Aaron Paul, Beulah Koale
- Director: Riley Stearns
- Inclusion Information: Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors
- Studio: RLJE Films
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violent content, some sexual content, language and graphic nudity
- Last updated: May 25, 2023
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