Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Movie Review: The Devil's Double

Interview with actor Dominic Cooper from The Devil's Double

I love it when a story makes me care about the main character and makes my mouth hang open with breathless anticipation for what will happen next. The Devil's Double based on Latif Yahia's autobiographical novel that recounts Latif's enslavement as the body double of Uday Hussein is one of those movies.

Uday Hussein was the eldest son of Saddam Hussein. Although Saddam was an iron fisted tyrant of Iraq, his spoiled son Uday was a completely vicious psychopath with free rein to abuse the Iraqi people in any way that suited him. For example, one of Uday's favorite diversions was abducting school girls off the street, drugging them, raping them, and killing them.

As you may recall, Saddam was famous for having one or more body doubles that made public appearances while Saddam stayed safely out of the action of his wars. In The Devil's Double, Uday decides that he needs a double.

After an exhaustive search for likely candidates to serve as Uday's double, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia is selected. He is intelligent and looks enough like Uday to make a convincing double.

Uday is smitten with Latif and delights in his possession of him. Latif refuses to serve as the double because it means giving up his own life and identity. Latif endures imprisonment and beatings but remains firm in his refusal until Uday threatens to commit wholesale slaughter of Latif's entire family. Beaten and miserable, Latif surrenders.

He is groomed and trained as Uday's double and must live as part of Uday's entourage. Uday calls him his brother Latif and lavishes attention on him and makes him accompany him while he commits atrocity after atrocity. Latif's life soon becomes unendurable because he is a good person and hates Uday's ceaseless cruelties. As I watched the movie I was utterly wrapped up in Latif's misery and constant challenges.

Uday is the most reprehensible character. Even Saddan comes across in the story as a reasonable person. In one scene Saddam declares that he should have strangled Uday at birth. Despite his paternal disappointment he continues to let Uday use Iraq as his sadistic playground.

I never knew what was going to happen next in this movie. At all times I was terribly concerned about Latif. The story is set in the late 80s and early 90s, so I had no idea what would happen. Because of Latif's circumstances I could not imagine anything but torture and death as his fate.

I won't give away the ending. Please watch it for yourself. The Devil's Double is a top shelf production. The filming is slick. The acting is wonderful, especially Dominic Cooper in the dual role of Latif and Uday. The movie is sexy, violent, desperate, and thrilling. Latif is a true hero. He is strong and smart and his courage under the worst circumstances is inspirational.