Friday, October 4, 2013

Movie Review - The Devil's Double (2011)

Latif Yahia, a lieutenant in the Iraqi army, is summoned to Uday Hussein's palace.  Uday is Saddam Hussein's son and heir to the dictator's throne.  Latif is forced to become the double for Uday, wiping his identity from existence, and undergoing plastic surgery to look more like Uday.  Little does Latif know that Uday is a coke addicted, murderer and power crazy rapist.

There is an instant dynamic between the main characters.  Dominic Cooper, who plays both prince and double, displays a cool level head and moral awareness to Latif, and an over the top insane cartoonishness to Uday.  The sympathy for Latif is overwhelming when he has to sit on the wayside and witness heinous acts committed all the time.  

The cartoony Uday and the over glossed sheen of the color treatment seem to aim for a sensationalist thriller rather than a balanced biopic.  The Devil's Double delivers tons of violence, guts, sex and grisly acts against girls, and the point of it seems to serve the means more than the end.  Nevertheless, Dominic Cooper's performance alone is good enough reason to watch.  

In addition to the artificial feel of the film, the source material has been challenged.  From Wikipedia:

In 2007, Butler interviewed Yahia and highlighted inconsistencies in many of Yahia's statements. In 2011, just before the release of The Devil's Double, Butler commented that Yahia's stories about when he was Uday's double were "to put it mildly, far-fetched."[6] After the 2007 interview, Yahia's ex-wife contacted Butler and told him that when she first met Yahia, he used a different name, Khalid al-Kubaisi. After the two married, she heard for the first time that Yahia claimed to have been Uday's body double, which she found "dubious."

In 2011, Caesar interviewed various people from the time of the Hussein regime. Although Saddam's use of body doubles was widely known, two confidantes of Uday Hussein denied that he used doubles. One said that Yahia was arrested for impersonation of Uday in 1990, and the other corroborated the incident, also stating that Yahia pretended to be Uday to pick up women. A private guard at Saddam's presidential palace from 1989 to 2003 also denied that Uday used doubles. Saddam Hussein's former doctor and a plastic surgeon at the Ibn Sina hospital said that the reconstructive surgery Yahia claims to have undergone there was never performed. The doctor also said he operated on Uday many times and Uday never had a body double. A former CIA case officer in Iraq, who claimed to know every asset in Iraq at the time and had friends who were close to the Hussein brothers, had never heard of Yahia, nor heard of Uday ever using doubles.[5] Yahia disputes these claims, saying that his very existence was a state secret.[7]

Despite the actual story of being a double, the majority of the events and crimes Uday commits in the film are very true.

The Devil's Double is available for stream on Netflix

Rated R for strong brutal bloody violence and torture, sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and pervasive language


Post a Comment