19 October 2012

Film: The Devil's Double (2011)

Thoughts: A remarkable film chronicling an even more remarkable tale, boasting a dual performance that's worth the price of admission alone- that's The Devil's Double in a nutshell. Dominic Cooper blows it out of the park times two, doing double duty as Uday Hussein, maniac son of Saddam Hussein; and Latif Yahia, the unfortunate soul forced to be his body double. The film moves at a rapid pace and deals almost exclusively with the two characters, making the experience harrowing and one-of-a-kind.

Saddam Hussein used body doubles, so it makes sense to the deranged Uday Hussein that he should also. Unfortunately for Latif Yahia- the man pegged to provide that mirror- it is a decision that is an illusion. Faced with the death of his family as opposed to compliance, Latif is thrust into this world by force and is subjected to the wild, lust-filled world of Uday Hussein. Under-age rape and abduction means nothing to the man, as does killing anyone who opposes him and throwing large wads of cash on anything and everything that takes his eye. Latif's restlessness grow, and as he begins to reach further beyond his station, his safe, untouchable position becomes more and more tenuous.

Dominic Cooper man. I mean, he has done great work before (An Education, The Duchess) but here he is given not one, but two absolutely delicious roles. He is so good in the role that, I actually had to pause 30 minutes in and imdb to see if it was actually him in both roles, or just a very talented stuntman. Uday is as rambunctious, over-the-top and out-of-control as Latif is calm, cool and collected. Watching them onscreen together is like water mix with ice: perfectly suited but completely different in make-up. The conversations/shouting matches they have are so well constructed, edited and written that you get caught up in the drama, forgetting it's a dude talking to himself in real life.

All of the side actors are fantastic too, no sense in leaving them out. You have the numerous conquests of Uday, and his side players, and Saddam himself. All bring their own level of nuance, filling this sordid world with people both willing and unwilling. Its a dark journey, to be sure, with some seriously distrubing moments and activities taking place. And what's even more insane, is it is all true. Fucked up, yes, but true. It happened. Uday was a freaking maniacal bastard with an insatiable lust, and the world at his fingertips. The worst combination, to be sure.

Lee Tamahori's direction is great, working with duality, realism and horror with great efficiency. Without a strong crew this would have been an elaborate exercise in shock and excess, but everything is kept well, taut and organized, right to the end.

A fantastic film, covering an amazing (and true) story. Check it out.


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