The Devil’s Double Review

It’s often said that everyone has their own doppelganger in this world.

Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of people telling me who I look like, from Robbie Williams to Russell Brand and Colin Farrell via Johnny Depp.

Of course, I don’t really look like any of them. Although my Nan was closest to hitting my nail on the head when she asked me who this Johnny Debt was.

Strangely enough, the one famous face I always thought I had a vague similarity to – and so have never heard before – is Dominic Cooper; the star of The Devil’s Double.

Beginning with a graphic and all too unnecessary montage of dead and dismembered bodies after some unspecified Iraqi war, we are greeted by the sight of Cooper dressed as a soldier being blown into the sea by some minor explosion.

This is Latif Yahia, a dutiful son about to be plucked from life on the frontline and plunged into an even more dangerous battle.

Having been taught in the same school as Uday Hussein, and occasionally mistaken for each other; the younger Hussein son, has chosen Latif to be his “fiday”, his double to help protect from threat of assassination.

Much as he would prefer to retain his own life and identity, this offer from his childhood acquaintance isn’t really something Latif can turn down.

The resemblance between the two is uncanny, as if played by the same actor, but there are still a few superficial kinks in Latif’s features for surgeons to iron out before Uday is satisfied with his new brother.

Naturally, Latif is less than enamoured by his new frère but is regularly reminded of the consequences to his family should he refuse to cooperate. So Latif is thrust into the increasingly bizarre world of Uday Hussein; a fully grown child of thirty something, whose excess and self indulgence seems to know no bounds.

As Uday’s life continues to spiral dangerously out of control, Latif must decide whether his new life is one worth living or dying for.

A movie about Saddam Hussein’s indulged second son and his double is a slightly left field choice for a major film script, but it’s a dream role for any actor wishing to display their range and versatility.

Cooper plays both Latif and Uday; with the former bearing a stoic and dignified presence, whilst Uday is portrayed as an unintentionally comical clown. Cooper excels in both roles, providing both the emotional context for the film with Latif’s struggle to adapt to his new identity as well as comic relief through Uday’s increasingly outrageous and violent tendencies.

The initial scenes of Latif’s assimilation into Uday’s world, and eventually Uday himself, are the most intriguing scenes in The Devil’s Double. No doubt, creative licence has been indulged as much as Uday was. But, as you might expect with a premise such as this, the Devil’s Double loses both momentum and direction after Latif has willingly assumed his role as Uday’s double.

Cooper will deservedly receive all the plaudits for his versatile performance, as should the special effects team for a rather seamless representation of both his characters.

Still, if he needs a double next time around, perhaps the boy could just give me a call instead.

Jonathan Campbell

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August 2011
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