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The Devil’s Double

by on November 21, 2011
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Mixing elements of “Scarface” with visual techniques from “The Parent Trap,” “The Devil’s Double” ends up being one insanely fun thrill ride. As brutally violent as it is, the film is also cerebral and daring in its conception.

Acting as a sensationalized biopic of sorts, “The Devil’s Double” is the story of Uday Hussein and his body double Latif Yahia. Notoriously one of the most spoiled and ruthless would-be dictators of all time, Uday Hussein’s reign of womanizing and cold-blooded murders was well documented. Son of the long-deceased Saddam Hussein, Uday lived a frivolous and extravagant lifestyle that included endless amounts of drugs, booze and fast cars. He lived his life similarly to a 1980s drug kingpin.

As part of his abundant living style, Uday hired a body double to due his bidding. I suppose this is where the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred and where the film comes into play. As exaggerated as the plot may appear, it actually isn’t too incredibly far off from the real events that occurred. The film does an excellent job of building up Uday’s grandiose way of life without at all romanticizing it. He comes across as a complete and utter scumbag of a human being, to which all accounts are true. The interaction between Uday and Latif, and the direct opposition of that which they represent, is easily the hallmark of the film.

Which brings me to the most amazing element of “The Devil’s Double”: Uday and Latif are played by the same actor, Dominic Cooper — hence the “Parent Trap” reference I alluded to earlier. Cooper manages to successfully harness both characters with great fluidity. Through the use of greenscreen magic, the two characters (who are in pretty much every shot of the film) flawlessly interact with one another in scene after scene. I was, in fact, so duped by it, that I didn’t even realize it was the same actor until well after the credits had rolled. It’s a true testament to how far along CGI and makeup effects have come.

The film itself is a bloodfest of the highest order. The camera does not shy its lens away from kill after brutal kill. It’s actually rather hard to watch at times and not recommended for anybody with a queasy stomach or fragile sensibilities. Lucky for me, I’ve been totally desensitized to violence decades ago thanks to my upbringing on horror movies, so I loved every second of the gruesome action.

Alongside Cooper is the beautiful and talented Ludivine Sagnier, in the role of one of Uday’s many love interests … and I put “love interest” lightly.  Her role in the film is rather minor, yet becomes more and more pivotal towards the climax. Needless to say, it’s a brilliantly acted film with remarkable set/costume design and even more incredible cinematography. Definitely a standout for me in terms of best dramas of the year.

The DVD comes loaded with extras that will further enlighten viewers with the history behind the movie. Included is a short expose on the Hussein family called “True Crime Family.”  Also, there’s an interesting piece on how Cooper managed to juggle both roles and a behind-the-scenes of the special effects magic. If that weren’t enough, there’s an interview with the real Latif Yahia and a director’s commentary to boot. A perfect DVD package, if I do say so myself.

Film: 4 Yaps
Extras: 5 Yaps