Review: The Devil's Double
PLOT: In this feature based on a true story, Saddam Hussein’s son Uday is looking for a double. He is searching for somebody who can take a few extra risks when Hussein stays behind and enjoys the company of his women, and whatever other pleasures he can surround himself with. Once he finds Latif, Hussein tortures him until the innocent promises to make himself dead to the world including his family and become his double. Soon however, Latif finds that money can’t buy happiness but it can sure make an enemy or two.
REVIEW: Either of Dominic Cooper’s performances in THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE would be impressive. The stand-out would clearly be the very colorful and vicious Uday Hussein. Uday, Saddam Hussein’s (Philip Quest) son, is portrayed by Cooper as a pampered and out-of-control youth. This child of power and possession is a role that Cooper sinks his teeth into, and it works. Yet starring alongside himself as Latif Yahia, Cooper perfectly realizes each character and thanks to movie magic, you have an actor take on two lead roles with sheer intensity and command of the screen. He is mesmerizing here.
Even if The Devil’s Double didn’t feature two terrific performances by one actor, it also tells a fascinating story of political intrigue. Director Lee Tamahori paints a remarkable picture with brilliant color and a look that feels as rich as the world Latif is living in. From a script written by Michael Thomas and Latif Yahia (who also wrote the novel), there is a quiet intensity that builds as we find out exactly what lengths Uday will go to get what he wants. Once it builds, it never lets up. This is a fast paced, and striking motion picture that crosses somewhere between SCARFACE and GOODFELLAS, if not necessarily as influential.
As the trailer suggests, this is based on a true story, and it clearly has Latif’s involvement bringing this to the big screen. From the get go we find this young innocent being forced to work as a double for Uday Hussein. When his company and services are requested and he turns them down, he is persuaded with not so friendly techniques. Soon, Hussein and Yahia are identical to each other, and for Latif’s services he is granted everything that Uday owns. However, along with the power comes retribution of a not so civil life. As the old saying goes, “live by the sword, die by the sword”, in other words, things get dangerous for Latif and his family.
It is strange to see such great chemistry between two leading actors, especially when they are the same person. Clearly they did not create a doppelganger, it is obviously a moviemaking trick, but it sure works. Domonic Cooper is fantastic as both the young wannabe dictator and his unwilling assistant. Occasionally, the movie begins to drag during the romantic situation between Latif and the insanely arresting Ludivine Sagnier, who plays one of Uday’s women. The romantic angle doesn’t always work, as it sometimes feels a bit forced, but it is no fault of the two actors involved. Both Sagnier and Cooper are combustible together, it doesn’t matter which role he is playing at the time.
The Devil’s Double is a brutal, bloody and beautiful film. It flaunts the decadence of the Hussein family, yet it has no fear in regards to the grim reality of this world. How much of this is one hundred percent, honest to goodness “true” I’ve no idea, yet it sure makes for an exciting feature film. Dominic Cooper will surely expand his world once audiences witness this enthralling double performance.