Dominic Cooper dazzles in ‘The Devil’s Double’
Imagine being best friends with a rich, famous guy who throws the best parties and gets all the hot girls. Sounds like an episode of Entourage, except that this famous guy isn’t Vinny Chase, he’s Uday Hussein and he’s also a psychotic, arrogant maniac.
In The Devil’s Double, Dominic Cooper is Latif Yahia, an Iraqi soldier who is suddenly called to Saddam Hussein’s palace to meet with his son, Uday, also played by Cooper. Latif bears a striking resemblance to the “Black Prince” and is forced–well, very aggressively encouraged–to become Uday’s body double. He reluctantly accepts and is thrust into the madness of corrupt power. Uday is reckless, spending his time snorting cocaine, threatening his friends with a gun and bedding all the loose women in sight. By contrast, Latif has no desire to act like a spoiled playboy and finds it difficult to try to emulate a person so wildly different from himself.
Eventually, he adjusts to his new position as Sadaam’s “other son” and plays Uday as a caricature with exaggerated arrogance, random temper explosions and all-around sociopathic behavior. But, the more he gets inside Uday’s head, the more he loathes his “twin”. One of Uday’s main girls, Sarrab, (Ludivine Sagnier) highlights Latif’s frustration, constantly pointing out the contrasts between him and the dictator’s descendant.
As Uday’s behavior starts flying off the rails more and more–at one point, he abducts and rapes a bride on her wedding day–Latif decides he’s had enough and plots an assassination that eventually cripples Uday, something that happened to the real life Uday Hussein.
The Devil’s Double has the pressure-cooker intensity of The Departed or a really dark version of Slumdog Millionaire. The cuts are quick, the lines are quicker and the character’s are unpredictable, keeping you glued to the screen.
Cooper is superb as both Uday and Latif. Typically, when one actor plays two people, there’s a point where it ceases to be believable, but Cooper’s performance is so spectacular that you truly believe Latif and Uday are played two separate actors.
Sagnier is great as the classic femme fatale. You know she’s dangerous, but you also know your leading man will get tangled up in her drama. Latif is specifically told she is the one girl he can’t touch and she has an air of mystery around her that makes you suspicious. Still, as Uday gets more destructive, you really believe she wants to break free and run away with Latif. That kind of questionable trust keeps her character from becoming a boring love interest.
The Devil’s Double is a small film with a limited release, but if you can find it at a theater near you, definitely go see it.