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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Movie Review - The Devil's Double

The Devil's Double (2011)
Starring Dominic Cooper and Ludivine Sagnier
Directed by Lee Tamahori

I am quite sure that Uday Hussein -- Saddam's son -- was a wild and crazy guy, living in excess and quite literally doing everything, anything, and anyone he pleased.  I am also quite sure that there is a good movie to be told about this guy, particularly about the fact that he hired a high school classmate to be his "look-alike" double and attend various events for him.  The Devil's Double is not that movie.

Director Lee Tamahori fails to find an appropriate balance between the excesses of Uday and the seriousness of the situation for his double Latif Yahia.  Given no choice but to become Uday's double, Latif (played by Dominic Cooper who tackles both distinct roles) is forced to adhere to Uday's every command for fear of his family's safety.  That's a scary proposition and one worth exploring, but whenever the film presents Uday to the audience it's as if we're watching "Sacha Baron Cohen as Uday Hussein!"  There's a comedic quality on display that is simply too jarring when put next to Latif's genuinely nerve-wracking situation.

I can't help but think that the offputting differences in tone between the two characters isn't the fault of Dominic Cooper, but rather the director's concept of presenting two similar-looking people with incredibly distinct personalities.  Cooper does an admirable job exploring the pathos of Latif, but when it comes to Uday it oftentimes veers into the realm of a Saturday Night Live sketch.

It's all rather unfortunate since I really do think this true story was worthy of a decent movie.  The bones of a good plot are there, but this just felt oddly fake and unrealistic in many scenes.  Even if Uday Hussein was as eccentric, wild, and insane as this film makes him out to be, with a more realistic tone, this would have been much more successful.

The RyMickey Rating:  D+

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