"“A fascinating story of two entirely different men brought together based solely on their looks…”"

Based on real events, The Devil’s Double tells the story of Saddam Hussein’s notorious son, Uday (Dominic Cooper) and his reluctant body double Latif Yahia (Cooper, again).

Uday, an unruly and merciless character, was the eldest son of the former Iraqi dictator, who prided himself on his sadistic personality, with a callous hunger for sex.

Being in such a powerful position, Uday attracted much attention (often not so positive), so for safety and logistical reasons he hired Iraqi soldier Latif, who bore an uncanny physical resemblance to himself, to act as his body double at various events, whilst allowing Latif the special privileges that come with being close to the Hussein family.

However, the pair were as different in personalities as they were similar in looks. Latif didn’t approve of the antics that Uday often performed, yet due to the power and supremacy of his new employer, Latif had little choice but to bear with it – as a foot wrong could lead to unwelcome and unsettling consequences.

The Devil’s Double focuses solely on the conflicting lives of the two lead roles, and their relationship with one another, amidst the political warfare sweeping over their nation. Therefore, the film relies heavily on the performance(s) of Dominic Cooper, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint. In what is clearly the most challenging role Cooper has had to play, he role to the challenge, and put in the best performance of his career so far.

In fact, you could argue that The Devil’s Double is one of those films where the protagonist’s performance was stronger than the film itself, in a similar vein to Daniel Day-Lewis in ‘There Will Be Blood’, for example.

Cooper has a terribly difficult task of not only playing his first major leading role, but of playing two lead characters at once – both of which fall outside of his comfort zone. He wouldn’t have been the first actor that would spring to mind when discussing the casting of Saddam Hussein’s son – yet it works perfectly. Cooper manages to master the two roles flawlessly, and despite the parts requiring little changes in make-up (aside from Uday’s bigger teeth), they are played entirely differently: a great testament to Cooper’s acting ability. To research and perform as an Arabian man must have been difficult enough, but to do it twice with just subtle differences, such as the accent, is certainly very testing. 

More praise must be heaped upon the special effects department and director Lee Tamahori, as despite the film evidently being filmed in front of a green screen for the majority, due to Cooper’s double performance, it doesn’t seem apparent that this is the case at all and could pass off and be wholly plausible that they were two separate actors. And for the female Cooper fans out there; there is one shot of both Uday and Latif in the shower together – that’s four bum cheeks on screen; at the same time.

However, amidst the wonderful performance by Cooper and the enthralling premise to the film, it certainly lacks in its script and sentiment - this film had potential for being a much more profound feature.

There are also imperfections in the script, as the film is set in Iraq and features mainly Iraqi accents – it seems that the choice of words and language used is slightly too westernised.

The film bears similarities to ‘Scarface’, in that it’s about power and the hunger to command - yet it is lacking in its intensity.  Many serious issues are explored, such as murder and rape, but I just felt that at times a too light-hearted approach was taken when in reality these are very sensitive issues and deserved a bit more gravitas.

However, I did enjoy the film – it tells a fascinating story of two entirely different men brought together based solely on their looks, and it is a compelling study of character and war, and I really did feel that this all became possible due to Cooper’s performance. He shines in both parts and as a young British actor hoping to gain more of a worldwide reputation, he does himself proud. If The Devil’s Double is anything to go by, then a bright future ahead almost certainly beckons.