The Devil’s Double
Review by M. Miller Davis
“The Devil’s Double” is a purportedly true story centering around Saddam Hussein’s younger son, Uday, and his sociopathically excessive lifestyle, as seen through the eyes of his body double, Latif. Latif, a moral soldier forced from his family, is given everything at Uday’s disposal to hasten the transformation into Uday’s body double and plaything. Forcing Latif to be his accomplice in heinous acts, most centering around sexual depravity and torture, Latif must decide, against threat to his loved ones, how much horror his soul can withstand before defying Uday.
Uday and Latif are played by the same actor, Dominic Cooper, and with startling ability. After the first ten minutes, you forget entirely that he is a single man as he embodies both characters with such vigor (especially the rabid Uday) and finds the precise tones with which to play against his own characterizations. His performance is impressive to say the least and very well may be Oscar-worthy at best.
Unfortunately, his portrayal is set within a story that does not prompt much in the way of emotional volatility. Of course Uday is insane and terrible. And, of course Latif is a good and moral man in a terrible position. But the story fails to allow Latif any foray into appreciating his new life of wealth and luxury, no pause to consider turning a blind eye to the atrocities in order to assure his family’s security and live a life unparalleled in excess. This unwavering dedication to good makes Uday’s usurpation not only inevitable, but makes it seem that Latif waits far too long to commence usurping if we are to believe he is still decent and not simply a coward. The path through the film is well paced, but with little deviation from the emotional median.
The film is shot well, with wonderful set design reminiscent of old Hollywood pictures contrived with outrageous set pieces. You get a great feeling for the opulence in which the Hussein clan lived. Also the the international and familial disputes are well portrayed for maximum drama.
Summary: A flashy feature film entrance for the excellent Dominic Cooper but lacks real punch due to sparse story-induced character introspection. A good rental if you’ve seen everything else at the Redbox.