If an Iraqi James Bond met Hollywood’s Drive, then the result would be The Devil’s Double. This Sundance Film Festival drama brings to life the horrifying true story of Latif Yahia. Based on his autobiographical novel, the film explores how Latif was summoned by Saddam’s Hussein’s depraved son Uday to act as his body double.
It quickly becomes clear that nobody denies Uday anything. Your girlfriend, your money, your family, your life – if he wants it – he gets it. After initially refusing to act as Uday’s double, Latif is tortured and blackmailed until he obeys. With the help of some minor cosmetic surgery and a dental implant, the transformation is made – Latif becomes the spitting image of Uday. The saga escalates when the Gulf War commences and Latif is sent to Kuwait as Uday. An assassination attempt is made, and things only get worse.
Director Lee Tamahori’s brush of action brilliance is evident all throughout the film. His previous work on James Bond: Die Another Day translates well to this thriller, even if the splashes of high-impact violence did occasionally catch me off-guard. Dominic Cooper, a recent breakout star from History Boys fame, plays the roles of both Latif and Uday. Cooper gives a stellar performance as the maniacal Uday, and the off-kilter glint in his eyes and ability to flip from rage to playfulness in an instant creates a strong portrait of a truly crazed personality. French actress Ludivine Sagnier – renowned for her work in the art-house thriller Swimming Pool – portrays Uday’s former girlfriend, Sarrab. Whilst Sagnier leaves no doubt of her acting prowess, I found her character a little under-developed. In this case however, it did give Cooper greater opportunity to dominate the screen.
The Devil’s Double – intense, hard-hitting and brutally realistic.
The Devil’s Double, premieres at 7.40pm tonight Thursday 9 January as part of WM Premiere.