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FILM REVIEW: The Devil's Double

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The Devil’s Double tells the story of Latif Yahia, the Iraqi solider forced to serve as Uday Hussein’s body double during the Saddam regime.

 

Latif must give up everything to become Uday’s ‘fiday’, which literally translates to ‘bullet shield’, even undergoing cosmetic surgery to look more like the Prince. His family are told he is dead and he must live in the shadow of the Prince, baring silent witness to Uday’s horrifying lifestyle.

The insight into the sadistic world of Uday Hussein is undeniably as intriguing as it is obscene. The Prince literally did anything he wanted during his father’s reign which led to a life of drugs (in reality, he was believed to have favoured heroin), carefree murder, unwarranted torture and sexual violence.

As shown in the film, Uday was often found crawling the kerbs of schools in a bid to pick up young girls. Famously, he ordered the torture of the Iraqi football team following their failings to make it through to the ’94 World Cup.

However, what is almost more intriguing is the film’s portrayal of an era often overlooked by film and possibly by audiences alike, that of Iraq as an up and coming Arab state in the late eighties, prior to the US invasion.

The casting of Dominic Cooper is just brilliant. Playing both Uday and Latif, he is simply stunning in almost equal measure. Portraying men who could not be more contrasting creates the perfect platform to showcase his, possibly previously unseen, incredible ability.  It’s obvious he wants to carve a role that will distance him from Mamma Mia and here, two have come along at once.

Managing to capture the unpredictable depravity of the psychotic son of Saddam, Cooper also wonderfully incorporates humour, albeit black, into the role; an achievement in itself when considering the subject matter.

However, his drawing portrayal of Uday also upstages his heavy, disapproving depiction of Latif. Despite the title, audiences could be forgiven for caring more about the Devil in this drama, than the Devil’s Double.

Although while Latif’s story, in particular his love interest, is in part underdeveloped, the story of Uday Hussein is so grotesquely fascinating in isolation, this is hardly damning criticism.

But be warned, a quiet reflective look at recent history, this is not. This is full on, in your face excess about as subtle as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Think more Scarface than The Hurt Locker and expect to be impressed, if not only with Dominic Cooper.




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