The Devil's Double
- Kaleem Aftab
- 9 August 2011
Rambunctious romp with career changing performance from Dominic Cooper
Subtlety is not in director Lee Tamahori’s repertoire. His excellent 1994 debut, Maori drama Once Were Warriors was full of well caught masculine bravado and tearful repercussions but the director’s career went wayward and reached its nadir with the 2002 Bond yarn Die Another Day.
The Devil’s Double, about Uday Hussein and his body double Latif Yahia (who wrote the source novel), is a return to winning form, mostly because the director plays to his melodramatic strengths, telling the egomaniacal tale with tongue firmly in cheek. It’s the work of a mad man about a mad man. At its heart is a career changing performance from Dominic Cooper, hitherto only seen playing little middle class shits in The History Boys, Mamma Mia! and Tamara Drewe. The British actor is released from his acting shackles playing the crazy son of the notorious Iraqi dictator. He channels Pacino’s Tony Montana as he rapes and murders his way to respect just as George Bush Sr is ordering the troops to liberate Kuwait.
Tamahori mixes archive footage with the fictionalised account of Uday that adds to the schizophrenic nature of the picture. Playing out as a good versus evil thriller, body double Latif is the hero of the piece, unable and unwilling to watch Uday wreak carnage, he decides enough is enough. This rambunctious romp is not for the faint-hearted but it is packed with over-the-top lines to quote for weeks after.
General release from Fri 12 Aug.