BFI Flare: 'Dual' Review
So as you well know, I accompanied Emily from Dattch.com to the BFI Flare festival this year. I've already written a review on 'Valencia: The Movie/s' which can be seen here, so go check that out. In the meantime, here's a review of the film 'Dual'.
The word 'dual', meaning 'consisting of two parts, elements or aspects' is one that seems like a deliberate choice for the title of the film. From the get-go, we begin the film wondering which of the lip-syncing characters on screen the film will revolve around. For a brief moment, I thought it would be around the teenage girl sporting a pretty 'lesbian style/Frankie-from-Lip-Service-esque' hair cut, but this notion quickly faded when the camera's gaze honed in on the bored-looking yet undeniably beautiful woman sitting in the front seat of a van.
The distinctive nature of the film's title, carefully choosing the word 'dual', outcasting notions of a plural or a singular suggests two people, two seperate people. Two people that, according to Nejc Gazvoda, transpire to be female for no reason other than it being 'clean that way'. The lack of sexual tension between the assumedly lesbian (though at no point admittedly, aside from dancing around the subject in a conversation referring to it as 'you know') character of Tina, and the assumedly straight (she refers to her boyfriend) character of Iben in the beginning is something that Gazvoda cherishes. Despite their lack of sexual desire, the characters escalate quickly and timidly, only kissing minutes before the film ends, yet after having some sort of epiphany soulmate moment in a typical U-Haul fashion and deciding to go travelling together after knowing each other for about 12 hours.
Though the storyline was only really made to be about two women to satisfy the need to make it more interesting, the film's intentional (and unintentional) quirks fill it with substance and aesthetic quality. The film's use of bokeh (that blurred twinkly light effect), typically sweet songs and humming are obvious (if a little cliché) signifiers of a 'teen in love', and while this feeling did come across slightly one-sided at times, the sentiment was there all the same.
The inclusion of both characters wearing pastel coloured Converse, was, what I thought, quite a clever titbit for all us serial textual analysers out there. I thought that they acted as a sort of icon of the Urban Youth, that even though these women come from totally different countries and backgrounds and they're totally different people, they still have this one thing in common, regardless. The fact that these icons are shoes only added to the intelligence of it all, or so I thought. I figured it was supposed to represent their journey together, the fact that they want to travel. Though Gazvoda let it slip in the Q&A that it was pretty much just to do with the fact that the actress liked them better than the shoes that had previously been selected for her. Nevertheless, I like my reading and I'm going to stick to it.
Though I was hoping the film would be some sort of statement about what it means to be young and gay in Eastern Europe, something was missing. It was not a film about lesbians, it was a film that starred two women who fall in love. Or seem to. Sort of. One of whom had never known anything other than her small town, the other craving any experience possible as she had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I'm sure that all of us can relate to that to some degree, be it shyness, coming from a small town, questioning our sexuality or craving new experiences. The film is one to watch, but I wouldn't trade my Converse for it.