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Worth A Look: 3.85%
Pretty Bad: 23.08%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Devil's Double, The
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by Daniel Kelly

"Cooper gets the Tamahori treatment."
3 stars

ďThe Devilís DoubleĒ is a case of great central performance, pity about the director. Charting the relationship between Uday Hussein and his tortured body double, the film seems chiefly interested in sickening acts of violence and sabotage, leaving it up to a fantastic Dominic Cooper (portraying both Uday and his unfortunate clone) to instill the picture with any semblance of depth or emotional complexity. ďThe Devilís DoubleĒ is an acceptable diversion during the viewing experience, but Lee Tamahoriís insistence on stylized overkill coupled with the thin screenplay leave it open to substantial criticism afterward.

An Iraqi soldier with a noble reputation, Latif (Dominic Cooper) is shocked to find himself drawn into the core of Saddam Husseinís regime. Latif is a doppelganger for Saddamís son Uday (also Cooper), the government keen to acquire Latifís services to enhance the bratty loutís security. After some minor physical alterations, Latif enters Udayís fulltime employment, forced to watch as his new master commits vile deeds across the region of Baghdad. Desperate to escape Udayís repugnant clutches, Latif comes to realize dissent will be met with harsh punishment, his own health and the well being of his family placed firmly on the line.

ďThe Devilís DoubleĒ isnít a subtle film nor is it particularly fixated on historical accuracy; instead Tamahori structures it as a standard tale of sex, drugs, gunplay and moral ambiguity. The vision of Uday Hussein presented here is deplorable, Cooper perfectly depicting the manís dangerous sense of self-importance. A true screen terror, Uday molests the young, murders the innocent and showcases no understanding of mercy, Cooper channeling these evils through manic twitches and hyperactive tirades. His interpretation of Latif is less kinetic, but it contrasts effectively with the wild Uday, Cooperís Latif communicating both loathing and disbelief expertly. Itís a really tremendous piece of work.

The narrative is loosely grabbed from reality, Tamahori weaving in war footage and references to various monumental global events to keep the timeline readable. ďThe Devilís DoubleĒ never opts for devoted action beats, instead offering scenes of unsettling brutality, many of which leave a hefty mark. Some of his visuals are ludicrously hackneyed, but Tamahori is never afraid to show the audience harsh truths in a gritty light, special focus being applied to Udayís haunting treatment of local schoolgirls. Itís not exactly pleasant to behold, but it certainly affords the picture some much needed weight, helping to buoy Cooperís contribution through sheer shock value.

The plotting is crisp, keeping the first two thirds fairly intriguing, but the product runs out of steam before the end. A feeble romantic angle is angrily shoehorned into the movie, ďThe Devilís DoubleĒ suggesting that Latif had a relationship with one of Udayís most cherished girls (played flatly by Ludivine Sagnier); this facet of the feature undone through a lack of chemistry and excessively shallow character development. Cooper does his best, but Sagnier is lifeless, although the actress is inherently crippled from the start thanks to Tamahoriís crude and ridiculously cheesy sexualizing of her character. Itís obvious and at times laughably overwrought, this aspect of the movie perfectly embodied by a hastily edited MTV style bedroom romp halfway through.

The cinematography is polished but unmemorable, Tamahori basking the picture in an unending sea of gold. Cooperís performance and a handful of other attributes (namely a fluid start and a few striking moments of anguish) keep ďThe Devilís DoubleĒ bearable, but it rarely achieves anything more than that. Itís a better than average biopic, but even within its genre ďThe Devilís DoubleĒ is far from a classic.

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originally posted: 08/12/11 06:33:03
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Berlin International Film Festival For more in the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2011 series, click here.

User Comments

12/16/11 damalc very entertaining, though the credibilty is suspect. 21st century Caligula/Scarface 4 stars
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  29-Jul-2011 (R)
  DVD: 22-Nov-2011


  DVD: 22-Nov-2011

Directed by
  Lee Tamahori

Written by
  Michael Thomas

  Dominic Cooper
  Ludivine Sagnier
  Mimoun Oaissa
  Raad Rawi
  Philip Quast

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