Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Devil's Double

In the 90s, the first Gulf War was starting in response to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. President George H.W. Bush frequently was quoted that it wasn't the people of Iraq that was the problem, but rather the leadership. While Saddam Hussein was the President of Iraq, it is his son Uday Hussein that, if possible, was even worse to the people of Iraq. Both Saddam and Uday had doubles to protect themselves from an assassination attempt, which is the starting point for the film "The Devil's Double" that depicts the relationship between Uday Hussein and Latif Yahia. The story comes from Latif Yahia who was forced to be the real life double for Uday Hussein.

I never thought that Saddam Hussein could ever be presented in a positive way, but by comparison to the actions of his son Uday it is the closest thing possible. Uday took whatever he wanted. His house was full of women, fast cars, alcohol, drugs, and designer clothes. He stole his women from the streets regardless of their age and if they are married. He does drugs and parties every night. Ultimately he is in love with himself and the only way he can continue the lifestyle of debauchery and immorality that he enjoys is to rely on Latif as his double. Both Uday and Latif are portrayed by Dominic Cooper through the use of special effects and simple make-up/costume changes.

The film is less biographical and more of a gangster film reminiscent of "Donnie Brasco" (1997), but not nearly as good. I enjoyed the first half of the film, but once Latif and Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier) started to get involved it felt like a soap opera and something that was better served for TV. The film shows that Latif was desperate to escape his situation and was willing to do whatever he needed to do in order to get away from Uday. The film attempts to ask the question if you would be able to go to the extremes that Latif reached.

Even though Latif was involved with the making of this film, I still wonder how factual it is. Mostly because Latif in the film says that he is loyal to Saddam and he is portrayed as a sympathetic character. As compared to other films that try too desperately to wrap up the story, I appreciate that "the Devil's Double" ended with just the words that the rest is history. It is still just a 3 Quack film, but certainly worth viewing.

(screening date 7/13/11, release date 7/29/22, location AMC Tysons Corner 16)

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