Cooper's Seeing Double

Dominic Cooper in The Devil's Double (2011)

Wanting to be more like his father, Uday Hussein (Dominic Cooper) decides he needs a body double and there is no one more appropriate than Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper). Latif and Uday were at school together and everyone remarked on how similar they were as boys to the point they could have been brothers. Reluctantly Latif agrees to say goodbye to his life to become Uday's permanent double despite despising the spoilt ass who treats women like dirt, raping and killing young girls as he sees fit. It leaves him conflicted when he has to act in the same manner and even more conflicted when he starts to fall for Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), Uday's main squeeze.

"The Devil's Double" is many things; it is based on Latif Yahia's own story, it is also a well edited movie with many scenes of Cooper playing both characters nicely merged together but it is all curious. It is curious because "The Devil's Double" is really a movie of three things and one stunning performance but it is a movie which ends up with an idea which is not enough to hold out an entire movie and so after the initial novelty it starts to lose you.

Ludivine Sagnier and Dominic Cooper in The Devil's Double (2011)

The first of those 3 things is the comical portrayal of Uday Hussein who in a world of bling and arrogance would give Ali G a run for his money. Whether the real Uday was anything like this some times camp portrayal is another matter but by being portrayed as a spoilt arse makes it more palatable to watch. But the second thing works in the complete opposite way as we have the shock value of the violence not just that of how Uday behaves towards others but of the regime in general. And this leads to the third thing which is the conflict which Latif feels having to be Uday and seeing all this destruction going on around him which makes him feel sick to be part of.

At the centre of this is that exceptional performance with Dominic Cooper delivering such vastly different characters but playing them both brilliantly. From making Uday a loathsome being with no respect for anything to making Latif more sensitive and thoughtful it is Cooper's performance which keeps you watching when after the initial novelty has worn off you get a sense that the story has not enough about it to sustain a whole movie or at least until Latif has enough and decides to try and reclaim his life.

What this all boils down to is that "The Devil's Double" could have been a really good movie as it has 3 interesting elements as well as a brilliant performance from Dominic Cooper. But it needed something more as the story ends up feeling short during the middle section with director Lee Tamahori relying on the sickening shocks to sustain your attention.

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