Reel Reviews
Movie: “The Devil’s Double” Surprises
March 29, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Films that are biographies or fact based tend to be a bit iffy for the majority of movie goers, as everybody knows that often times the film is usually filled with exaggerations or occasionally completely made up circumstances to make the plot more dramatic or the characters more sympathetic. “The Devil’s Double” did not need either of these gimmicks.

Army lieutenant Latif (Dominic Cooper, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) is brought to Saddam Hussein’s palace by the dictators eldest son and his former classmate Uday (also Cooper) where he is forced to become his double. Uday is quick to let Latif know that they are now brothers and that everything he owns is his as well: cars, clothes, houses, women, excluding his regular arm candy, Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier, “Swimming Pool”).

Latif bonds with Uday’s advisor, Munem (Raad Rawi, “Conan the Barbarian”) as both men are witness to, and seemingly helpless to stop, Uday’s madness and regain control over their own lives again. Drinking, drugs, sex and violence are all daily occurrences in Uday’s life and his depravity knows no bounds.

After a failed suicide attempt it is clear that Latif, if he wants his life back, if he wants to see is family again, if he want to be free, must figure out how to disappear without a trace or murder Uday. How can one disappear or commit murder when all eyes are on you and your mark is famous?

Some films have a slow buildup, others start strong and end slowly while others struggle to grab and hold the attention of the audience; “The Devil’s Double” manages to keep its momentum throughout. The film is engaging, even stylish, while it delivers its story. Visually it is crisp and seemingly so far removed from what mainstream audiences in the United States are accustomed to that it really helps set the tone. Dominic Cooper gives an incredible performance as both the disturbing Uday and desperate Latif. You feel for him and are rooting for him as Latif and loathe him and wish him dead as Uday; he plays the latter’s psychotic, self-absorption perfectly. Cooper shows an impressive acting range. The supporting cast all do well with their roles with a special nod to Raad Rawi as Uday and Latif’s trusted advisor.

The film is not perfect, with some historical discrepancies and Cooper’s and Sagnier’s natural accents slipping in noticeably throughout, but it is entertaining enough that more often than not one can ignore those details. The film is surprisingly good and worth the watch.          

“The Devil’s Double” is rated R for strong brutal violence and torture, sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and pervasive language and runs 109 minutes. It is available on Netflix Instant.