Based on a gripping, unbelievable true story of money, power and opulent decadence, Lionsgate's THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE takes a white-knuckle ride deep into the lawless playground of excess and violence known as Baghdad, 1987. Summoned from the frontline to Saddam Hussein's palace, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) 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 (also Dominic Cooper), 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, easy women and impulsive violence. With one wrong move costing him his life, Latif forges an intimate bond with Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), 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.
Website: The Devil's Double
The novel: I Was Saddam's Son by Latif Yahia
The year is 1987, and Saddam Hussein is at the height of his power in Iraq. Opening on archival footage the viewer is introduced to this specific time in history; the Dictatorship of Saddam, war with missiles firing, and tanks scouring the desert land. Swiftly the footage cuts to two luxury cars speeding through the desert landscape, and then into the bustling city of Baghdad. A man in uniform sits in the back seat, looking uncomfortable, scared, and out of place. Soon enough you find out the man is Latif Yahia, an Iraqi army lieutenant who has been summoned by Uday Hussein. The reason for the request, to become a fiday (body double) for Uday as their looks are quite similar. Latif is faced with an assignment he cannot decline; for saying no to the son of Saddam Hussein means death, or worse. As it is simply put by Latif, "you are asking me to extinguish myself;" and just as simply an answer Uday tells him that whether he agrees or not he will be dead--dead as Latif, or dead as Uday's fiday. It is a complicated situation where personal choice is no longer an option. In a regime plagued with violence, Latif enters the "family" of the Hussein's only to find himself in a place of horror at the hand of Uday.
Based on a true story, The Devil's Double is an astounding look inside not only the life of Uday Hussein, as seen through the eyes of Latif Yahia, but also of Baghdad on the brink of the occupation of Kuwait, and the subsequent war with the West. The politics remain a constant backdrop in the story, as the time passes in Uday and Latif's lives, yet we see how Uday never changes given his surroundings. His sociopathic tendencies heighten as the dangers rise and his thirst for drugs, partying, young girls, and control never ceases. Uday credits himself with creating Latif, his "brother". As his fiday Latif learns to be Uday in public, fooling even the closest people in his life. For Latif it is a nightmare because he is not kept hidden away in secret but brought everywhere Uday goes, to participate in his sadistic lifestyle. Latif witnesses the violent outbreaks of Uday, killing men and woman with macabre methods. The film does not paint a delicate or pretty picture of life with Uday Hussein. The camera provides an uninhibited view into the daily chaos he exhibits. Inside of this chaotic existence is Latif, and The Devil's Double never lets you forget just how different these men are and will always be, building up the tension between the two with every scene, and culminating in a power struggle that leaves you unable to look away from the screen. The film does falter slightly in the third act, rushing into a climactic finale without providing enough material to explain and substantiate just how the events came to be. Regardless, the final outcome is rewarding in all of its perverse sensationalism--and one that just may let a cheer escape from the viewer over the joy it evokes.
Led by an outstanding performance by Dominic Cooper as Uday and Latif The Devil's Double is thrilling to watch. Time ceases to exist as the plot dives deeper into the horrific world Latif must manage, while trying to maintain his own self amidst the constant pressure to be someone else. The men's two worlds collide on more than one occasion, whether through a woman, Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), or over family, politics, and conflicting moral judgements. Latif will never be the "brother" Uday so desired, a replica of himself he could look upon and be proud of in his twisted mentality. The Devil's Double is a true story that one can only imagine to be false; the realization it is not triggers feelings more powerful than what you witness on screen; it is an absolutely mesmerizing picture.
In the dual role of Uday Hussein and Latif Yahia, Dominic Cooper displays a great magnetism on screen. The dichotomy of the two characters could not be any more different; Uday plagued with an outright insanity, while Latif is calm, collected and morally sound. Cooper balances the two with a delicate ease, never succumbing to one entirely but always keeping both characters separate, even as the line blurs between physical appearance being a cause for separation. Latif could have easily blended into Uday, making the characters no longer two men but one man playing two roles. Cooper bypasses this trap with the use of his eyes. The cold, spastic and frantic look of Uday is counter-balanced by the softer, more melancholy and often times hatred filled looks of Latif. Their voices are strikingly different; Uday's being high pitched and whiny while Latif's is deeper, and shows maturity with every word. When Latif must play the role of Uday Cooper manages to take the steps each time to become Uday all over again, showing his adept ability to become someone else inside of another character. The soul of these two characters exists in Dominic Cooper's very different portrayals of each and his extreme dedication that can be felt by the viewer to each role individually.
When the two characters are on screen together there is a great force that can be felt from either side. The line is blurred as to whether it is the same actor playing each part--and you tend to forget that one man is acting in both roles. Cooper's performance is that good in that he is able to maintain a detachment between the two characters, resulting in a story about two men's relationship and not one character exemplified in two characters by one actor. Dominic Cooper may have found his greatest acting achievement to date, and you leave the theatre excited to see what project he will bring his immense talent to next.
Thriller, Action, Biography
July 29, 2011