In his fascinating memoir The Devil’s Double, Iraqi businessman Latif Yahia revealed how he had been press-ganged into posing as the doppelganger of Saddam Hussein’s sadistic son, Uday.
Separated from the people he loved, Latif was a sitting duck for snipers in his guise as the president’s eldest son, adopting similar mannerisms in order to pass as the real Uday at public events.
Adapted for the screen by Michael Thomas, The Devil’s Double is a chilling portrait of a psychopath let loose on his own people, and the man who had the unenviable task of getting beneath Uday’s skin to keep himself and his family alive.
Lee Tamahori’s film provides British actor Dominic Cooper with the roles of a lifetime portraying the reserved, honest Latif and extrovert Uday, the latter preying on young girls and getting away with it because of his family ties.
Shy and reserved, Latif Yahia is the spitting image of Uday, who believes that he can do and say what he wants by virtue of being the eldest child of Saddam Hussein (Philip Quast).
Uday makes Latif an offer he cannot refuse: pose as a decoy or sign the death warrants of his entire family.
Forced to imitate Uday’s oafish behaviour and mannerisms in public, Latif is drawn into the inner circle of the Iraqi president and his advisers where he falls under the spell of Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), Uday’s favourite mistress.
The Devil’s Double is a fascinating chapter in one man’s personal history that asks us to consider what we might have done in a similar position.
Cooper is mesmerising as the flamboyant Uday, staunchly refusing to allow Latif to leave his side because in his words, “I love you too much.”
At times Uday comes across as a bit of a buffoon, such as when Latif defies his orders, he sighs aloud, “You give people an opportunity and this is how they repay you.”
However, we are constantly reminded of the Uday’s capacity for sickening violence.
A scene in which Uday drunkenly fights with one of his father’s generals and wins the argument by slitting open the military man, spilling his innards over a table in front of his guests, is particularly shocking and graphic.
So too is his horrific wedding present to a beautiful blushing bride.
It is little wonder that Uday felt he needed a doppelganger, to deflect bullets from his own subjects let alone the Americans.
The film’s 18 certificate is fully justified and provides a stern warning to audiences of a nervous disposition to steel themselves for occasional gore.
By Damon Smith
:: SWEARING :: SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 7/10
Released: August 10 (UK & Ireland)