Set in 1990’s Baghdad, The Devil’s Double chronicles Latif Yahia’s real life struggle to escape a fate bestowed on him by one of the most tyrannical regimes of the modern age. Mixing heavy hedonism with interesting portrayals of morality, The Devil’s Double offers an intriguing insight into what went on behind the scenes during the Gulf War.
Although Latif Yahia’s story is widely criticised, it offers an interesting foundation for the film. Latif, played by Dominic Cooper, is enlisted by Saddam Hussein’s eldest son Uday (also Cooper) as a body double. Through this he witnesses a vast array of mindless crimes and insolence from Uday. Latif makes several attempts to object to his employment but is kept in place when his family are threatened and he himself is tortured.
Mamma Mia’s Dominic Cooper masterfully plays the two lead characters. Subtle differences help the viewer differentiate between the two without their characteristics being wildly dissimilar. It is testament to his performance that you feel somewhat impressed when Latif begins to mimic his captor (for want of a better word), forgetting the two are both played by Cooper.
The main crux of the story falls on the relationship held between the two. Uday is painted, by and large, as a psychopath who has trouble with morality. Whilst Latif looks on in disgust, Uday often indulges in misogyny and over indulgence in alcohol and narcotics. Soon, of course, Latif rebels against his predicament, much to the displeasure of Uday. Cue a viscous finale.
Whilst The Devil’s Double oozes scenes of wealth, it lacks the gaudy glamour promised by DVD cover. Uday’s world is shambolic, he’s feared and secretly belittled in equal measure, but the film unfortunately never fully examines the extent of his psychotic problems. Instead we’re treated to 104 minutes of repeated scenes of his indulging in drugs and women. Latif’s journey, as well as his moral struggles, thankfully offers fascinating viewing that help keep the viewer immersed.
It’s not all bad and the picture painted by director Lee Tamahori is a harrowing one filled with casual murder and rape. Not to be watched as a historically accurate piece, The Devil’s Double is nonetheless an absorbing watch.