Review: Is 'The Devil's Double' The Scarface Of The Middle East?
Although dwindled down to a mere purpose of presence making sure things don’t get out of control, the war in Iraq will remain a stir of cringing echoes in the minds of those who endured it as both victims of circumstance, or obligation based on decisions sketchier than any other decision based under inaccurate reasons.
Whether supported or not, the Hussein family carried one of the most complex reputations known to any family of power! Sadam’s ruling made noise all over the world, supported to a large degree at times (even by our own government back in the early 80s), however, like everything else when it comes to rulers, from heroes, certain ways convert them into evil dictators, and in comes a slew of sanctions, reactions etc.
During these vital years both his sons (Uday and Qusay) were introduced to some of the world’s worst acts imposed by any human being on land. Force fed to believe there was justifiable reasons for harshness among those who speak against the family, much of what they soaked in led to an upbringing of tender innocent children, to grown men taking advantage of power, learning the ropes among world democracies/dictatorships and primping themselves for a life full of glitz and glamour, influenced by all that defines the word ‘vile.’
Of the two, Uday soaked in all he could, used it to every advantage, and knowing his ways of a spoiled rich mean brat placed him on an unpopular map...why not go the ways of his own father and act on the idea of finding himself a possible “clone” to play hide-&-seek with among his own people and the world!
And that he did!
Summoned from the frontline to Saddam Hussein's palace, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia is thrust into the highest echelons of the "royal family" when he's ordered to become the 'fiday' -- or body double -- to Saddam's son, the notorious "Black Prince" Uday Hussein, a reckless, sadistic party-boy with a rabid hunger for sex and brutality. With his and his family's lives at stake, Latif must surrender his former self forever as he learns to walk, talk and act like Uday. But nothing could have prepared him for the horror of the Black Prince's psychotic, drug-addled life of fast cars, easily, frightened, forced women and impulsive violence. With one wrong move costing him his life, Latif forges an intimate bond with Sarrab, Uday's seductive mistress who's haunted by her own secrets. But as war looms with Kuwait and Uday's depraved gangster regime threatens to destroy them all, Latif realizes that escape from the devil's den will only come at the highest possible cost, and the swiftness of a well-planned move is critically crucial
Having started with the true historic face of a corrupt, war-imposed, country…much to the film’s credit, it presents a rugged truth behind the family and their golden troubled child. From paranoia, to using fear tactics, to manipulative actions, Dominic Cooper (CAPTAIN AMERICA: The First Avenger) does a pretty damn good job when playing duel roles. Keeping the art of acting true to its core, between roles, the transformation from a rowdy, dark, Uday, the transformation was pretty amazing when shifting characteristics, mannerisms, and humble, humanistic attitude when portraying Latif.
Paced out pretty well and to my liking, I compliment the writing as well. Dialog was quick, to the point and defined all characters, but an issue I had was the goofy, comedy-like approach that was used during scenes which Dominic owned as Uday. I’m not sure if it was done on purpose, or merely a fact that some in the crowd were out-of-touch with whom the man REALLY was…it was quite discomforting for me. I could understand if it was Sacha Baron Cohen on screen displaying his Borat tactics, but it wasn’t. it was a true story about events that were real at one point and caused lots of anguish among many in and/or around that dysfunctional, megalomaniacal family—especially in the presence of a man who killed, hurt and raped at his own disturbing desire! In no way, shape or form is there anything fun or funny about that! (Maybe it’s me, but knowing what I researched, read and saw at his horrible hands, ALL of his lines should have been as cold and crude as the man was!)
On the contrary, I connected well and a lot with Dominic’s owning of Latif…as a man walking around like a zombie, he knew he was nothing more than a wind-up robot. Digging deep within will and desire, there was room for his purposes to go against a man who was pretty much his own enemy, and it was only a matter of time before a rotten move would allow him to express his disgust for the acts of living life as one of Iraq’s most hated men. Very clear, straight-forward and entertainingly moving!
What didn’t balance Dominic’s characters—whether Uday or Latif—were scenes shared with any of their women. I sat there wondering if any of those actresses had been auditioned, because chemistry was simply not there. With the exception of the younger looking actresses portraying victims, the whores looked like whores and that was it when it came to character. This is even clearer with Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), Uday’s loyal whore who enjoys frolicking with Latif as well and why not? He has a bigger penis!
It’s not fair to call them bad actresses, but I think it’s fair to say the roles were simply played based on looks, but not emotion or character!
Overall, knowing there’s a wee bit of Hollywood touch-up with a strange feeling of presenting Uday as a Middle Eastern Scarface, Director, Lee Tamahori didn’t hold back when piecing a film with lots of darkness and atrociousness—nothing was held back when it came to sex, violence and horror. I can say I horridly enjoyed and respect it! However, why allowing the goofiness and casting slow actresses is beyond me…I mean we can’t win them all and it’s not like I’d crap on this film, but with so much gritty history behind a man named Uday Hussein…I, personally, would have gone the dramatic and cringing ways of HBO’s HOUSE OF SADDAM (’08), but knowing it’s a film…pushed the realities of hardened harshness!
GRADE: B- / GENRE: Art/Foreign, Drama, Adaptation and Biopic / RATED: R / RUN TIME: 1 Hr. 50 Min.
STARRING: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Mimoun Oaissa, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast
DIRECTOR: Lee Tamahori
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