Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fantasia 2011: The Devil's Double (2011)

Lee Tamahori's The Devil's Double is one of the most disturbing films. However, Tamahori shows with intelligence the daily horrors of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The film is based on the life of Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper), a military officer. He's forced to become the "fiday", a body double, for Uday Hussein (also played by Cooper), the eldest son of president Saddam Hussein (Phillip Quast). To prevent the assassination of Uday, Latif must learn to walk and talk like Uday. Moreover, he must forget his family. During the invasion of Kuwait in 1991, Latif must pass off as Uday to boost the Iraqi troops' morale.

As time goes by, Latif sees that Uday is a devil. The son of president Hussein has an appetite for sex, easy women, school girls, drugs and violence. Latif finds solace in the arms of Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), Uday's mistress. However, Latif eventually plans to flee Iraq.

Given that Latif Yahia was Uday Hussein's body double for some years, Tamahori did a nice job condensing the story within at least two hours. One can certainly forgive Tamahori for making The Devil's Double as a thriller. This is because the performance by Dominic Cooper astonishes us. He has no difficulty switching between psychopathy (as Uday) and composure (as Latif). Moreover, by using suggestion, Lee Tamahori also shows us the horrors of Saddam Hussein's regime such as the torture of athletes Iraqi athletes who underperformed in the views of the regime.

Obviously, the film takes a few liberties, but it still a smart entertainment. Besides, given that the film takes place in the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, one must not see The Devil's Double as a pro-American statement.

Rating: 3.5/5

Origin:Belgium (2011)
Length:108 minutes
Screenplay:Michael Thomas and Latif Yahia
Director:Lee Tamahori
Starring:Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier and Raad Rawi

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