The Devil’s Double

You’ve no doubt heard the stories of Saddam Hussain have several doubles – men who looked a lot like him – as his fear of being assassinated made him employee these doppelgangers. This ia similar such movie but about his son Uday’s double. The Devil’s Double is a thriller film directed by  Lee Tamahori and starring Dominic Cooper, Philip Quast, Ludivine Sagnier and Raad Rawi and a Sundance entry. Dominic Cooper, last seen as Howard Stark (Tony/Iron Man’s father) in Captain America: The First Avenger, does an amazing acting role in The Devil’s Double, a preposterously entertaining and appropriately gut-wrenching biopic/drama about Uday Saddam Hussein, the late Iraqi dictator’s sadistic youngest son. Cooper also portrays Latif, who is forcefully employed to be Uday’s double.

Latif Yahia an Iraqi soldier fighting in the Iran-Iraq war is called  to become the ‘fedai’ or body double for Saddam Hussain’s playboy son Uday. Latif & Uday studied in school together and even back then the resemblances between them were noted. Uday refuses to take the position but is imprisoned and tortured by Uday’s men and finally agrees when his family is threatened. Latif is fixed up and undergoes minor cosmetic surgery to iron out the differences and is given lessons to mimic Uday’s mannerisms and volatile behaviour. He is given access to all of the luxurious benefits of the Husseins’ fortune, including massive palaces, expensive wardrobes and Uday’s various other exotic cars.

Uday seems to have a morbid fascination with Latif, calling him brother and getting upset as Latif seems to not enjoy or appreciate the opportunity. Latif at one point runs away from a nightclub to go and see his family but is caught & brought back by Uday’s soldiers. One of Uday’s favourite passtimes is to cruise the city streets looking for young schoolgirls who he forces to join him and escort him to parties. At one such party, in honour of Suzzane, wife of  Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s, Uday becomes enraged at Saddam’s bodyguard & food taster Kamel Hana Gegeo, who introduced Saddam to Samira Shahbandar, which devastated his mother, Sajida Talfah, and he also expresses jealousy at the trust his father places in Kamel. When Kamel interrupts Uday’s sexual advances towards a 14 year old girl he had abducted that same day, Uday butchers him with an electric carving knife in front of all of the guests. The girl is also beaten and her naked body dumped the next day.

Latif continues his role and at Basra even rallies the troops but an attempt is made on his life (thinking that he is Uday). To Uday’s great concern, Latif nearly loses a pinky in the assault, which presumably would mean Uday would have to have his amputated to maintain their resemblance, but doctors are able to save Latif’s finger. While Latif recovers, the father of the 14 year old girl comes to confront him demanding justice. Uday who overhears this orders Latif to kill the man; Latif instead slits his own wrists. Later at Uday’s birthday party in a nightclub (where Uday orders the women to dance naked at gunpoint), Latif confronts Uday which escalates into a fight and a shootout. Latif uses the distraction to escape along with one of Uday’s lovers Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), with whom Latif had been having an affair. The two escape to Malta but scared of being unable to ever see her daughter again Sarrab betrays Latif who is almost killed by Uday’s snipers.  Uday calls Latif and offers him one final chance to return to Iraq, threatening to kill his father if he refuses. Latif says he will not return and his father is killed.

Latif does return to Ira later, to kill Uday. With the help of the father of a bride who Uday had raped on her wedding night and who later commited suicide, Latif ambushes Uday while the latter is in his car attempting to lure young girls. A few shots at fired at his car and Latif mangles Uday’s genitals with a direct shot (this assassination attempt is based on the real one in 1996). Uday is not killed and survives while Latif leaves Iraq. The movie is based on Latif Yahia’s book of the same name, although many of the events have been disputed by several people, some even claim that Uday never used doubles. Whatever the truth is, it makes for a good movie with a compelling performance by Cooper in a dual role. Philip Quast as Saddam gives you the creeps. Highly entertaining and screw the fac that it did fail at the box office. 7 outta 10!

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