Dominic Cooper stars as Uday Hussein — Saddam Hussein’s depraved, decadent elder son — and as Latif Yahia, the army lieutenant forcibly drafted to be his body double, in this drama based on Yahia’s autobiographical novel. With his family’s fate on the line, Yahia surrenders his identity to embody the hated figure but gains a conspirator in Uday’s concubine, Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), as he plots his escape.
Rating 7 out of 10
I’m going to come right out and say that Dominic Cooper needs to be nominated for an Academy Award for his dual role of Uday Hussein and Latif Yahia. His joyful yet psychotic Uday is one of the better performances I’ve seen in the last few years and his Latif Yahia is restrained, angry, and draws our sympathies. Each one of them individually would have merited award recognition but the fact that he did both is beyond impressive. The story, while flawed, is engaging whenever it is focusing on the struggles between the primary protagonist and antagonist(in this case, the same actor) and is at its weakest when it falls into standard action clichés that seem removed from the rest of the film. The first ¾ are really fantastic. We are brought into the world of a spoiled rich kid who preys on whatever might please him at any given moment, no matter who it may hurt. Yatif is forced to watch atrocities that are unspeakable and all under the watchful eyes of Saddam Hussein’s assistants that feel the same but know the consequences that will happen to them and their families if they disobey. All of it is compelling stuff and for the most part true stories about the psychopathic Uday Hussein.
The last ¼ of the film is not as successful. Latif ends up meeting a woman that is a former lover of Uday’s and decides to run away. A shootout commences, their car breaks down, and the next thing you know they’re riding horses to get away. It seemed so far removed from the really interesting moments in the story that I had to lower the rating. However, if you enjoy great performances and can stomach 2 hours spent watching a maniac at his worst, you will enjoy The Devil’s Double.