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The Devil's Double
Dominic Cooper's performance(s) are better than the overall film. That's too bad considering Cooper's performance is absolutely brilliant. The film itself just falls flat with plot holes, a confusing romance and a made-for-TV style. Until I saw the film, I was unfamiliar with the story of Latif Yahia. I knew of Uday Hussein and his sadistic behavior but I had no idea that a man was forced to be his body double and actually made it out alive to tell the story. Yahia ended up escaping after having multiple assassination attempts on his life. It's sad because it's an amazing story. I just wish better writers and directors were on board to bring this story to an epic light. The movie feels amateurish and the writing just left me scratching my head.
Much like Armie Hammer's brilliant performance in The Social Nework
, Cooper played both Latif Yahia and Uday Hussein. According to an article in the L.A. Times
, director Lee Tamahori utilized similar techniques. There were some scenes where Dominic Cooper would act with a stand-in and then re-shoot the scene from the other side and there were some scenes where they actually replaced his head. If you saw The Social Network
, there were scenes where Armie Hammer would hug his brother. For those scenes, they had an actor stand in named Josh Pence and they would just put Hammer's head on his body. Any actor who can pull off both performances definitely deserves recognition. (I did an interview with Armie Hammer
for The Social Network
where he defines in detail how he shot his sequences for the Winklevoss Twins .
What's awful is that the film itself doesn't live up to Cooper's brilliant performance. If anything, you should see this movie just to watch his performance but the problems with the film almost hurt the acting job. The screenplay was extremely weak, cheesy and was filled with one too many holes. There was a romance that made no sense, actions from characters that were extremely confusing and the overall tone just didn't work.
This film crosses a very interesting line for me as a film critic. While it portrays Uday Hussein in the most disturbing light possible, which is the point of the film, I found myself disgusted at the violence. I completely understand that Uday was extremely sadistic and one of the worst people on the planet. I just had a hard time watching the majority of his actions in the film including the scenes of Uday with women. I don't know if it was the fact that we were watching events that may have actually occurred or not. The violence was insanely gross and got to the point where I would look away at times. And this is coming from a person who has sat through all of the "Saw" and "Hostel" films. It's weird because I completely understand that the point of the film was to show how horrific of an individual Uday Hussein truly was. Trust me; they get that point across loud and clear. Though, I have hard time sending people to see this movie on a Friday night. It's a massive downer and a very hard film to watch. The Devil's Double
stars Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger
), Dominic Cooper (An Education
), Ludivine Sagnier (French Actress from Love Crime
), Philip Quast (plays Saddam Hussein in the film) and finally Latif Yahia himself also has a small part in the.
For people who may be in the dark about this story, as I was, Latif Yahia (Cooper) was approached by Uday Hussein to be his body double/"bullet catcher" during the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980's. Latif obviously did not want this job but Uday threatened to murder his family if he did not comply with his orders. Latif was forced to undergo surgery and wear false teeth to copy Uday's appearance. Uday would send Latif out for public appearances to keep him from getting assassinated. For Uday, having a double became a sick obsession. At least from the film's stand point, Uday didn't just want the body double to keep himself protected. Latif almost became kind of a toy that Uday could have fun with. He completely disregarded life and family and disposes of anyone or anything that was in his way. The drama in the film comes when Latif falls for Uday's love interest, played by Ludivine Sagnier. Being that Uday is always sleeping with other women, which is mostly done with force, she knew that if she ever betrayed him, he would kill her. Though, Latif could not help his feelings for her and they try and escape together which obviously causes massive issues.
You have to understand that, at least according to the film, Uday Hussein was one of the sickest and most disturbed people on the planet. There are sequences in this film that will shock you to the point of wanting to look away. One sequence in particular that really sickened me was when Uday ordered a woman, on her wedding day, to sleep with him. This scene really showed his power and his sickness. The battle of the film comes from Latif's morals and how he has no clue how to deal with Uday. He wants nothing more than to kill him but he knows that would not end well for him or his family. It's a classic case of "what would you do" if you were in Latif's shoes. Would you give up your life to save your family? That part of the film does work. You see the struggles that this character goes through. That is mainly displayed through Cooper's brilliant performance though. He has to play two characters with two different extremes. That's what it's frustrating because you want this performance to be found in a great film!
With The Social Network
, the Winklesvoss Twins were essentially the same. Here, Latif and Uday are insanely different. For one actor to embody both of those emotions is just the mark of a fine actor. Now if the script and direction were as good as his performance, we would have a great film here. That's where the film ultimately fails. The direction was very amateurish and the writing felt so forced. There were just too many holes and characters were taking actions that made no sense. The entire romance triangle felt really cheesy. I know that aspect was true to the story but the writing could have been more complete.
There were times where I was laughing at scenes that I wanted to be serious about. It was just all about the tone of the film. It felt off and something was missing.The Devils Double
receives a 2.5 BDK rating. I recommend waiting for the rental which is unfortunate because Cooper is so good. I just wish the rest of the film lived up to his performance.
***Note Latif Yahia has written three books about his story of becoming Uday's Hussein's body double. The film is based around The Devil's Double
. According to Wikipedia.org, his first book on the subject, I was Saddam's Son
was released in 1997 but didn't gain any attention until after 2003.