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Devil's Double, The


Stars: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Mimoun Oaissa, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast, Khalid Laith

Director: Lee Tamahori

West, who deserves credit for surviving the cute-as-a-kitten kitsch that was Alan Bennett’s awesomely overrated schooldays fantasy The History Boys, delivers an astonishing double performance as Saddam Hussain’s seriously psychotic son Uday and as his luckless lookalike Iraqi Latif Yahi who was chosen to assume the role of Uday’s body double or see his family slaughtered.

The good news for Latif is that he gets to share Uday’s hedonistic life style of sex, drugs and astounding luxury. The rest is bad news as Latif suffers mightily apart from a somewhat less-than convincing romance with Sagnier, one of Uday’s many mistresses.

Fact doesn’t appear to have been a major preoccupation of scenarist Michael Thomas who has used the strange saga of the dubious double as the basis for a tough, viscerally violent thriller decorated with scarifying sadism and gangster-movie influenced nastiness. Saddam Hussain, for example, is portrayed more as a worried parent than the evil psychopath he really was.

While it is patently amoral and probably rather less historically accurate than, say, Carry on Henry, The Devil’s Double, directed for all it’s worth by former Bond helmer Tamahori, packs a surprisingly potent punch.

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 20 Aug 2011