Film & Video
2 min

A touch of absurdity

Dual is a complex and touching lesbian film not to be missed at Inside Out

Airport shuttle driver Nina (Nina Rakovec) and stranded Danish passenger Iben (Mia Jexen) share a subtle dance of knowing and not knowing in director Nejc Gazvoda’s film Dual.

If you liked the Before Sunset trilogy and Once, you will like Dual, but the Slovenian film is more complex, honest, innovative with its cinematic tools and makes much more with fewer resources. There are no touristy locations and cityscape porn to resort to for emotional colour, and there are no pre-recorded music numbers either. Money, work and economic conditions are not conveniently abstracted out, nor is everybody perfectly fluent in English.

The two strangers who meet and spend a couple of days together in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana are airport shuttle driver Nina (Nina Rakovec) and stranded Danish passenger Iben (Mia Jexen). Talk is not easy — they don’t just happily start jabbering about French philosophy or folk music or global warming — and we get to know them, and they each other, in starts and stops, through guesswork, hints they give, their body language and actions. As their attachment grows, some things are purposely left unshared and major decisions made without much debate. Though they both have serviceable English, neither woman speaks each other’s native language, but this turns out to be a blessing: they are united by the lack of fluency in a common language.

This subtle dance of knowing and not knowing never stops as we try to give each of the women a narration. Director Nejc Gazvoda has made a film for grownups; he trusts you to employ your thinking and feeling capacities. And it’s as if he and his script co-writer Janez Lapajne had carefully read works by British psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, who states that “understanding is not a precondition of true love.” Really “getting” somebody is overrated; love is more to do with craving somebody’s presence, and not with having their truth within your grasp.

As their happy misrecognition unfolds, we follow the girls through episodes ranging from a job interview that turns into an existential crisis; a family dinner that is equally a snapshot of a post-Communist, second-tier EU, post-austerity society and a portrait of an unhappy but fundamentally loving family; a badly needed escape from the only home ever known; and the end of a friendship. All these have a touch of absurdity but are so deeply felt that you’re never allowed to step out and look at them as an exercise in style or social commentary.

Don’t fucking miss this one.