Films like The Devil’s Double, though hard to sit through, demand to be seen, if only to warn the public of what goes on outside their own, safely cocooned world. Based on a true story, Dominic Cooper (Captain America (2011)) stars in the dual roles of a power mad gangster and a young man tortured both mentally and physically, in a sometimes bizarre, often terrifying but never short of riveting drama.
Baghdad 1987, and Latif (Cooper), son of the country’s leader Sadam Hussein, requires a body double (a lookalike to fill in for him at events and functions that he doesn’t wish, or are too dangerous for him, to attend). Enter his old school friend Uday (also played by Cooper), who bares an uncanny resemblance to the coke snorting, gun totting playboy. Fearing for his and his family’s lives Uday is given no choice but to comply with Latif’s demands to double for him, finding himself in an extraordinary world of money, sex and wild parties where everyone is never more than a breath away from death at the hands of Saddam and his psychotic offspring.
This is a film of doubles on two levels. Firstly the core story of two men who, though they appear physically (after a little cosmetic assistance) almost identical, are poles apart in nature. Latif’s decadent lifestyle, insecurities and total disregard for anyone that stands in his way, are mirrored by the sensitive and caring Uday, who becomes increasingly shocked by the abhorrent behaviour of his former classmate.
Then you have the double standards. At one point Latif takes gruesome revenge (of which those of a squeamish nature may find hard to stomach) upon his father’s ‘righthand man’ whom he accuses of procuring prostitutes for his father hence causing distress to his mother, whilst Latif himself cruises the streets of Baghdad to pick up young schoolgirls for sex. Couple this with the unimaginably opulent and tasteless homes and clothing to which Sadam and his entourage treat themselves whilst their fellow Iraqis live in fear and squalor, and you may begin to sympathise a little with what America did in the country, and the revenge Uday ultimately takes upon Latif.
The Devils Double may be unpleasant, but if it serves as even a fictional warning against men like Latif and his father, then it’s harrowing brutality may be justifiable.