the_devils_double

Based on Latif Yahia’s supposed true account of his time as Uday Hussein’s fidai, the movie, “The Devil’s Double” is a glaring look at the life of the one of the biggest dictatorial families in recent times. Borne in sepia and gilded tones, the movie though, is more of a gangster movie than a true-to-earth documentary highlighting the life and times of Uday Hussein when he decided to rein in Latif as his body-double. The movie is based on the book with the same title which Yahia wrote after escaping from the hell of Iraq. These are times when the Arabic world is trying to shake off the bad memories that were Saddam Hussein’s reign and the release of a movie which tries to shine a flash-light might be termed as insensitive or untimely. But the movie is much more than that and sometimes much less. The movie bears an uncanny resemblance to any GTA game with its sedans cruising the streets of Iraq with men in Ray-Bans hunting down women to have sex with. The men kill and the women dance in their parties. Life seems to be an endless war or an endless party and sometimes we lose focus on which is when.

To be honest, the Husseins do resemble a gangster family from the Sopranos or Scarface with Saddam being confined to the sidelines in this depiction as the ruthless patriarch of the family. But at least, there seems to be a rigid geometry to his ruthlessness as he tries to subdue any type of chaos and anarchy that might pose a threat to his power. But the real “Devil” in the movie is his eldest son Uday who at times seems to be an incarnate of the horned one. He is a ruthless, power-hungry and pathetic man-boy and one who presents an interesting case for studies under the heading of psychologically disturbed. He is a prime example of what unchecked privileges can do to an individual who is unable to take it into stride. He exhibits the characteristics of a dangerous and insecure weakling under the strut of a playboy who has never had to earn anything, be it privileges or the respect of any fellow man.

The story jumps into gear when Latif, a man who resembles Uday is taken into custody and forced to act as the double for the latter. He is reluctant at first but is soon to realize that things do not work like that in Hussein Iraq. He becomes the double and slowly, the loathsome energy of Uday begins to rub off on him. The movie swings from mock-documentary to sensationalism gangster movie at times and the movie becomes increasingly unrealistic as it progresses. One of the more incredulous scenes include Latif making love to Uday’s mistress played by Ludivine Sagnier who flits between various wigs and lipstick. The climax of the movie becomes further caricaturist as Uday transforms from a righteous circumstantial prisoner to an international action hero.

Inspite of all this, the movie is a joy to watch for Dominic Cooper’s performance(s). He is sensational as the hysterical Uday and the broken down Latif and at times he makes you believe in the falsity of it all. Largely entertaining, the movie fails to push the viewer into any though-provoking situations by the limitations it imposes in itself. All in all, a good watch but do not read too much into it.

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