Business rating: 1/5 star
Star cast: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier.
What’s Good: Dominic Cooper’s performance; the high drama between the two main characters.
What’s Bad: The loopholes in the screenplay; the abundance of graphic and violent scenes that will put the majority of Indian audiences off; the botched climax.
Verdict: The Devil’s Double is a good fare but its unusual subject and lack of face value will seal its fate at the box-office.
Loo break: A few in the last few reels.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for Dominic Cooper’s extraordinary performance in a double role.
The Devil’s Double is a historical drama about the relationship between Saddam Hussein’s son, Uday, and his body double, Latif Yahia.
Uday (Dominic Cooper) is a profligate, cruel, cunning man who spends most of his time snorting cocaine, sleeping with prostitutes, picking up innocent school girls only to rape and murder them. He has no time for his political or military duties, that he has to fulfill as he is the son of the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein.
For his safety, and so that he can do away with even the bare minimum work he has to do, he finds and blackmails his look-alike, Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper again), an Iraqi soldier, into becoming his duplicate. Although Latif refuses to take up the task initially as it would mean giving up his own identity, he has no choice but to accept under duress. Once installed as Uday’s duplicate, Latif starts getting used to the life of a prince. However, when he realises what a monster of a person Uday really is, Latif tries to break free from the situation. But Uday keeps tracking him down again and again, threatening him about his family. In due course, Latif even saves Uday’s life several times as he goes to the risky places that Uday doesn’t want to go to, but Uday is ungrateful.
One day, when Uday rapes the newly-wed wife of an Iraqi soldier right after the wedding, Latif loses it and makes up his mind to leave Uday for good. Later, when the US is bombing Iraq during the first Gulf War, Latif manages to escape. One of Uday’s mistresses (Ludivine Sagnier), who has been having an affair with Latif, accompanies him to the neighbouring country of Malta. But somehow, as soon as they reach the new land, Uday manages to trace Latif’s exact location, right down to the phone number of his hotel room. Soon, there is an attack on Latif, which he survives by a whisker. What happens next? Is Latif able to live a life of peace, away from Uday, who is hell bent upon using Latif at any cost? The climax answers these questions.
The Devil’s Double Review – Script Analysis
Michael Thomas’ screenplay, based on a book by Latif Yahia, provides the viewer a window into the royal yet evil life of Uday Saddam Hussein. The script has some adroitly conceived and enacted sequences where Uday and Latif confront each other. The action sequences are also well-composed. However, the screenplay falters when it moves outside the confines of the Uday-Latif relationship. Take, for example, the very predictable track of Latif falling for Uday’s mistress, a move that Latif has to regret later on.
There are a few things in the script that the Indian viewer will not agree with. Like, when Latif decides to finally sacrifice his family in order to win his freedom from Uday, a freedom, which in the end, does not mean much to him anyway. The viewer will also be repulsed at the scenes of Uday’s extremely graphic attacks on people, including murdering and raping them. As such, due to the historical nature of the film, it will have few takers at the Indian box-office.
Having said that, it must be added that even the graphic scenes are very well-written, filmed and enacted, making a strong and lasting impact on the viewer. A few scenes, especially when Latif tries to imitate Uday, stand out. It is this dramatic yet realistic treatment that will win the film acclaim from audiences who like to patronise good cinema.
The Devil’s Double Review – Star Performances
Dominic Cooper delivers an extraordinary performance. He expertly embodies the insanity and cruelty of Uday as opposed to the calmness and endurance of Latif, making the film worth watching for his performance. Ludivine Sagnier looks sexy and performs ably. Raad Rawi (as Uday’s assistant) supports well. Philip Quast (as Saddam Hussein/Saddam’s body double) is good.
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