The Devil’s Double

19 Feb

Director: Lee Tamahori

Writers: Michael Thomas, Latif Yahia (books)

Stars: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier and Raad Rawi

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 109 minutes

 

 

Of all the many lurid and fantastic tales of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the erratic behaviour of his eldest son Uday capped most for sheer madness. Uday was the son that murdered his father’s personal valet at a party, Uday tortured national athletes that failed to win whilst head of the Iraqi Olympic Committee, and Uday kept a personal zoo including lions and cheetahs. The President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak called Uday Hussein a psychopath and this film, based on the true story of Uday’s body double Latif Yahia, confirms the accuracy of that description.

In this film, set between the start of the Iraq – Iran war in the early ‘80’s and the US retaliation for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in the early ‘90’s, Dominic Cooper plays Uday and Latif. It is a far cry from Cooper’s traditional part in small British dramas (An Education, Tamara Drewe, My Week with Marilyn), but he acquits himself well. He channels Tony Scarface Montana in a lot of his scenes as the debauched Uday and for Latif, the ex Iraqi soldier, he goes a bit Jason Bourne. He certainly tries hard and the many scenes of them together are cleverly assembled.

Apart from Cooper’s valiant effort at the centre of this movie, much of it is poor. There are uneven accents and strange dialogue and the performance of Ludivine Sagnier, as the woman between Uday and Latif, is awful. There are torture scenes, stabbings, rape and other Caligula like horrors, but Uday is never truly menacing and the narrative behind the many shocks is weak. As for Lee Tamahori the director, 1994 and Once Were Warriors seems a very long time ago. Sub-standard all round.

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