Riley Stearns has the drollness of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos down to a tee. And it’s quite a good match for Stearns’ subject matter in “Dual.”
The movie takes place in a future where emotions are so tamped-down and blank that we know we are in farcical territory.
It starts with a duel between two men, who seem to be twins. They are on a sporting field with some seats on the side, sort of like a small high school stadium. Each man has a table of weapons on his side of the field. And when the match begins, the two men begin what turns out to be a fight to the death. The few viewers do not cheer or take sides. The match is being televised, too, as if it’s part of a social ritual.
Then the the movie shifts gears and focuses on Sarah (Karen Gillan), who starts coughing blood and goes to see a doctor. The doctor tells Sarah that she has a terminal illness, that nothing can be done, and that she might want to look into having a clone made so that the clone can ease the loss experienced by her loved ones.
Even though Sarah is married to Peter (Beulah Koale), the marriage doesn’t appear to be all that loving, but Sarah goes ahead with the plan to have herself cloned. The new clone quickly inserts herself in the private life of Sarah, as if it’s a competition.
So there are two Sarahs walking around, at least until the original Sarah dies. But what if the doctor’s diagnosis is incorrect? Social rules state that Sarah and the Sarah clone must meet in a field and fight a duel to the death — just like in the opening scene.
You can guess where “Dual” might be going. But the ending is far from predictable. In fact, it’s a hoot.
“Dual” will open April 15, at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar.