About 99% percent of the time when I watch movies my sole goal when it’s over is to decide rather or not it entertained me- the other 1% is reserved for rather or not I cared about any sort of message political or otherwise it had to say. Now before that sounds too shallow I will say that my initial reaction steers toward entertainment- it’s upon deeper reflection that I start to think about how the film makes me feel with any message or deeper meaning the film had on me. However I am not one to sit and dwell on something like politics because for the most part the subject doesn’t interest me and I have little to contribute to a subject ripe for pulling the wrong strings. THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE portrays the wild lifestyle on the son of one of the world’s former enemies and aside from that I was drawn solely into the madness of the protagonist’s ugly predicament and the fantastic performances- yes performances, plural- by Dominic Cooper.
Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) finds himself with a bit of a double edged sword in terms of resembling another person. He is chosen to be a double for a rich and powerful man to whom he will share vast riches, gorgeous women and a lingering spotlight. The downside of the deal is that he is chosen to be the double for one of Saddam Hussein’s son, Uday (Dominic Cooper). Latif is quickly exposed to a fast lifestyle full of sex, drugs and incredible violence the likes of which become a heavy burden in his life that just may not be worth his trouble.
THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE is another one of those films that does what it does very well for most of the movie but at a certain point it once again wears out its welcome. If not for the brilliant acting by Dominic Cooper it might not have even been watchable passed a certain point. On an entertainment level the film moves from scene to scene quickly enough to never get bored until the last act, but is never quite as electric as when Cooper is on screen arguing with himself as he plays both good and evil in the film as the pawn in Uday’s deplorable lifestyle and as the demon Uday himself.
Dominic Cooper plays Latif in a subtle and quiet way as he reluctantly accepts his role in Uday’s life and takes his cruelty with a quiet tongue, but when he’s pretending to be Uday or is actually portraying Uday he’s a completely different actor. Uday is very much like a cartoon character but disturbingly so as he’s a cartoon character that’s frighteningly believable. The character goes through extremely violent mood swings but also shows an even more evident sense of confidence that he has no fear of any and all consequences of his actions and those moments when he’s snapping and unpredictable that become the most entertaining but also the most concerning.
The film is pretty striking in its portrayal of Uday’s fast and crazy lifestyle- not just in terms of the rich and glamorous surroundings but also in the brutality of his life as the son of a terrible dictator and how Uday dishes out punishment to everyone around him either in retaliation to minor issues like someone looking at him the wrong way but also for undermining his orders. THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE is not a flattering portrait of the individual or anyone else associated with him- nor should it be. As bad as the actions carried out in the film are they are as interesting and engaging to watch as I imagine they could be. Once the film speeds toward conclusion though there is a state of purgatory where it feels like the characters are at a stalemate and nothing interesting happens until the final few minutes of the film.
Minus the feeling of floating in limbo at a few different moments of THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE I still found the film spellbinding- due mostly to Dominic Cooper’s fantastic dueling performances. It’s not a perfect portrayal of a true evil in the world, but as a work of film it is very engaging and worth the watch. I found myself mystified by Cooper as he lost himself in character portraying Uday and the heartless and disturbing acts of cruelty he inflicts on others and on that alone THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE will hook other viewers as it did me. There are moments where it is merely treading water that keep the film being as great as it could be and falling just short of pure gold.