What’s fascinating about The Devil’s Double is that Dominic Cooper gets to give two performances – often playing against each other – that are of such different pitches it’s as if the whole movie existed solely as an actor showcase. On one hand he’s playing Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein and a Caligula-in-training who likes having sex with schoolgirls and killing people. And then he’s also playing Latif Yahia, the man who looks enough like Uday to be hired (under protest) by Uday to be his body double. It’s Cooper’s movie and he nails it. The film itself (directed by Lee Tamahori) is a bit tired and formulaic, with interesting notes here and there, and a good whore with a heart of something performance by Ludivine Sagnier, but it’s hard not to walk away dazzled by its star but not the movie. Our review of the Blu-ray of The Devil’s Double follows after the jump.
Latif (Cooper) has fought gallantly for the Iraqi army for a while, and was classmates with Uday Hussein (Cooper). When Uday is convinced that Latif is the only person who could be his double, Latif is told he must take the job or else his entire family will be killed. He’s reluctant, but grudgingly accepts. Uday loves women, cigars and shooting things, and this doesn’t go well with Latif. He wants to bolt from minute one, but is often reminded of his short leash. The only thing of Uday’s that does interest him is Sarrab (Sagnier), who – it’s revealed – sleeps with Uday repeatedly because she knows when he tires of her she’ll be dead.
Alas, that’s pretty much all there is to this. Latif doesn’t like Uday from the start, never grows to become delusional enough to respect him, so for the most part he just wants nothing to do with his situation. In that way Cooper’s performance as Uday is more fascinating, because he’s the insecure little boy who will kill or rape someone just because he knows it’s going too far. And in that there’s a great performance of the man who’s actively looking for the father figure, the punishment that keeps him in line, and so he keeps transgressing in hopes of going too far.
Director Lee Tamahori talks on the supplements about this being a gangster tale, and there’s some of the fun of that, but you wish there was a moment that it was fun for the main character. It’s hard not to be edgy the entire movie because the main character is constantly constipated – even when he has sex. It’s fun to explore the world of the Husseins, and it’s good to know that they are already dead, but you want the seduction part as much as you want to see people behaving badly.
But Cooper is magnetic enough to make the whole thing immensely watchable. He really does give two good to great performances in the film, and he gets a great chipmunk glee in playing Uday. It’s out there enough to be believable, to be fascinating.
Lionsgate presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 7.1 master audio. Extras include a dry and drawl commentary by director Lee Tamahori, and three featurettes. “True Crime Family” (16 min.) covers the standard making of aspects of the film, while “Double Down with Dominic Cooper” (9 min.) gives Cooper his due, and “The Real Devil’s Double” (8 min.) gives the real Latif a chance to talk about his job as Uday’s double. Also included are bonus trailers.