Today: February 28, 2024
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Devil's Double, The

They say that you should never believe everything you read in the papers, and with the current state of the tabloid press in the UK it has never been more salient advice. Like their political allies, the press have their agendas and their own interpretations of the truth.

They say that you should never believe everything you read in the
papers, and with the current state of the tabloid press in the UK it has never
been more salient advice. Like their political allies, the press have their
agendas and their own interpretations of the truth.

Take Saddam Hussein, for example. The one-time US ally and Middle
Eastern dictator was demonised and branded public enemy number one by two
generations of the Bush family for the way he ran his country (mostly trying to
protect its oil reserves). There were sections of Iraqi society that suffered
under his rule, but it was a much safer and prosperous place for many Iraqis,
most of whom now have nothing under the US-style enforced “democracy,” which
has certainly caused more death and destruction than Saddam’s brand of
despotism. This isn’t about defending the tyrant but trying to give a little
context for the film, The Devil’s Double, because, while Saddam was running his
country with a strong hand, his son Uday was completely out of control.

Based on a true story, the maniacal Uday (Dominic Cooper) needs a fiday,
a body double/decoy to take some of the heat for his outrageous behaviour or,
more to the point, to appear in public when the drug-addled enfant terrible is
too drunk or wasted to do it himself, a bullet-catcher for when there’s a
threat to his personal safety. He finds an almost perfect match in his old
classmate Latif (Cooper again), an army lieutenant with a strong moral compass,
who is made an offer he can’t refuse, although Uday was more Scarface than Don
Corleone. But life in a gilded
cage is still life in a cage and when Latif falls in love with Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), Uday’s favourite
courtesan, he knows his days are numbered…

Shot more in the style of a gangster movie (think Scarface of Arabia)
than a traditional political thriller, The Devil’s Double glamorises the
excesses of Uday and his entourage without ever condoning their actions or
glossing over the human cost of Uday’s non-stop orgy of drug-fuelled rape and
murder, Dominic Cooper giving a magnetic dual performance as the psychotic Uday
and his laconic double Latif. Amongst all the atrocities committed by Saddam’s
evil spawn, Cooper’s charm still seems to shine through, even if he looks nothing
like the romantic interest in Mamma Mia. What we do see is a spoilt brat; a
mollycoddled mummy’s boy with absent father issues and an over-inflated sense
of entitlement – attributes not that dissimilar to the looters we’ve seen on
the streets of the UK in the last week, except Uday’s aspirations involve
attacking other countries, not stealing trainers or breaking into Poundland.

Cooper will no doubt receive lots of accolades for this dual performance
of two very different characters. He slightly overacts the Uday role but it is
necessary to show just how out of control he was. However his scenery-chewing
Uday is balanced out by his more grounded interpretation of Latif.

Not always an easy watch, The Devil’s Double will inevitably upset some
people, but this is a cinematic interpretation of events that we may never
fully comprehend, and may actually be a lot tamer than the reality. Despite all
the carnage, drama and excesses, there are also moments of humour as well as
old-fashioned romance and adventure.

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