DEVIL'S DOUBLE, THE: DVD
Baghdad in 1990 is a playground of the rich, rotten and infamous, where anything can be bought - at a price. This is the world of Uday Hussein (Dominic Cooper), who helps himself to whatever turns him on. It's always sordid, amoral and usually hurts others. When army lieutenant Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) is summoned to Saddam Hussein's (Philip Quast) palace, he is faced with an impossible request - to be Uday's 'fiday' - his body double, or have his family condemned to death. In a world entrenched in betrayal and corruption, knowing who to trust becomes a matter of life or death for Latif - like Uday's primary mistress, Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), who herself was picked out by Uday without her consent.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The reign of Saddam Hussein was known to be oppressive and violent; it was also known to be amoral in permitting gross human rights abuses and atrocities. But that is a desensitised form of words which may upset but do not cause the revulsion that we would feel as eyewitnesses. Well, here's our chance to witness just one man's evil ways in the House of Hussein - and it's pretty revolting.
Uday was despised even by his father; in one of the very few scenes between the two, Saddam (Philip Quast) spits out his regret that he didn't kill Uday at birth. But his disapproval of Uday doesn't run to reining him in. A distant, stern and oddly static figure, Saddam Hussein seems almost disconnected from reality. But that may be because the story teller, Latif Yahia, didn't have much contact with the old tyrant.
He did, however, have a lot to do with Uday, the deranged, buck-toothed ego-maniac with a sex drive as mutant as his father's regime. Dominic Cooper plays both Uday and Latif - and with great success. The roles call for extraordinary subtlety; Latif is the body double, and his similarity has to be enhanced by plastic surgery and false teeth. But he has to portray two vastly different characters in circumstances that put him under intense pressure. Not only is his own life in danger, but his entire family is at risk.
Ludivine Sagnier is striking as Sarrab, the sexy mistress who is off limits, and whose loyalties can never be taken for granted - by anyone.
The glimpses into Uday's inner circle are shockingly relevant and universal as examples of what can (and almost always does) happen to people whose power frees them from any restraint. But the screenplay is careful not to portray characters as black and white - Uday and Latif excepted, of course.
The story is thoroughly gripping and as it springs from real life, it doesn't have a Hollywood trajectory or story arc - yet the screenplay charts a real journey for Latif, one which has a satisfying resolution.
Published August 15, 2012
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DEVIL'S DOUBLE, THE: DVD (MA15+)
CAST: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Raad Rawl, Philip Quast, Mimoun Oaissa, Khalid Laith, Dar Salim, Nasser Memarzia, Mem Ferda, Latif Yahia, Marcelle Theuma
PRODUCER: Paul Breuls, Michael John Fedun, Emjay Rechsteiner, Catherine Vandeleen
DIRECTOR: Lee Tamahori
SCRIPT: Michael Thomas (book by Latif Yahia)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Sam McCurdy
EDITOR: Luis Carballar
MUSIC: Christian Henson
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul Kirby
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Originally scheduled: March 8, 2012 but not released theatrically in Australia.
SPECIAL FEATURES: .
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Icon Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: August 15, 2012