Based in the book of the same name, The Devil’s Double tells the supposedly true story of Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper), an Iraqi soldier, who was forced into becoming the body double (aka human shield) of Saddam Hussein’s playboy son, Uday (Cooper also).
With critics and ‘work colleagues’ of the Hussein family suggesting the book is somewhat liberal with the truth, there are two ways to tell Yahia’s story. The first is to acknowledge the discrepancies in his story and treat the whole affair like Chopper or The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, adding a pinch of hindsight salt to each scene, but acknowledging that bad things did happen. The other is to treat it all very seriously, with a sense of worthiness which can only lead to awards. Director Lee Tamahori went for super-secret option number three; give the middle finger to subtlety and facts and treat the whole thing as if it was directed by McG and then shat out of MTV.
Let it be never said that Dominic Cooper is not a brilliant in the dual role of ‘Prince and Pauper’. Aside from the odd slip of accent, Cooper dominates the movie playing Yahia as a brokenhearted soldier, and Uday as a towering over-confident child-molester modelled heavily on Tony Montana. That, and that alone, is the one good thing we can gleam from this waste of celluloid. The rest is is an unmitigated disaster.
The Devil’s Double is a vulgar, violent affair where men are tortured every ten minutes and women are raped every five. The final confrontation between Uday and Yahia is about as tense as a wet teabag with all the emotional power of one as well.
Overall, it’s dangerously close to propaganda and, as such, should be treated as such. Watch with serious reservations.