The Devil’s Double Review
There are many ways to describe Uday Hussein, Saddam Hussein’s oldest son. None of them are positive.
Hit the jump for the review!
The Devil’s Double is a “take no prisoners” film that’s as hard to watch as it is entertaining. It follows Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper), an Iraqi soldier from an upper class family, who is plucked from the war to act as Uday’s double. Uday (also played by Cooper), remembers the comparisons the two would get when they jointly attended grade school. He asks Yahia to be his double – for both political and personal reasons. Like his father, Uday is in a constant state of worry over an assassination attempt. Further, he wants to send Yahia on personal trips that he himself doesn’t wish to attend. Yahia, kind and warm, refuses, but is forced to with the threat of harm to his family. Yahia is given cosmetic surgery and dentures to complete the look.
Yahia is thrust into Uday’s world. This is a world filled with rape, torture, murder, drugs, sex and money. The lifestyle that the Hussein’s live is more than Presidential – it is royal. Immediately, Uday claims Yahia as his own property. Uday has grown into a monster, getting whatever he wants and never having to deal with the consequences. Yahia is who he wants. The atrocities he witnesses because of Uday disgust him, but he is stuck in this nightmare. We watch as Uday preys upon young girls walking home from school. We watch as he guts his father’s best friend at a party. We watch Yahia struggle with the lifestyle he is forced to live. Uday’s fascination with Yahia grows stronger and it enters your mind that Uday may actually be in love with his double. This doesn’t necessarily mean in a romantic way, but because his love of himself is so great, that he sees Yahia as apart of himself.
The acting in dual roles by Cooper, his first film as lead, is Oscar worthy. He gives both men their own voices, mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, that instantly allow the viewer to tell them apart. Subdued and stoic, Cooper plays Yahia as a guilt ridden man, grappling with the life he has been thrust into. He plays Uday as a manic, hyper madman with a broken smile and a creepy laugh. You literally believe they are two different actors.
Latif is an ordinary man who is thrust into an extraordinary situation. An object of admiration for the President’s son, he has no choice but to comply with the excruciating horrors that are put forth before him. Never once, however, do we seem his morals waver.
We know how it ends, but as with life, it’s the journey that’s important. The Devil’s Double is the real life, Middle Eastern Scarface. Powerful, unsettling, thrilling and always entertaining, The Devil’s Double, is quite easily one of the best movies of 2011.
Bottom Line: A