DOMINIC COOPER PORTRAYS UDAY HUSSEIN AND HIS DOUBLE
Lee Tamahori's The Devil's Double is based on the true story of Uday Hussein, Saddam Hussein's ruthless playboy son, and his body double. Dominic Cooper plays the dual roles of Uday and his double, and the film has been compared to Brian De Palma's Scarface ever since the first trailer was released. The film, dubbed everything from "the Iraqi Scarface," to "Scarface in Mesopotamia," has just been released on DVD, so it seems like a good time to post some links that touch on the comparisons.
Movie City News' Gary Dretzka:
"If the story weren’t so horrifyingly real, you’d find The Devil’s Double on a short list of thug classics alongside Brian De Palma’s Scarface. In fact, I’m surprised that movie wasn’t playing in the background somewhere during this faux-biography of Uday Hussein, another coke-snorting, woman-abusing and gun-obsessed fiend. The similarities between Tony Montana and the sadistic son of Saddam Hussein are inescapable. In an interview included in the DVD bonus package, director Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors) explains that he purposefully embellished Oday’s bad behavior – as related in the memoirs of body-double Latif Yahia – to distinguish it from traditional bio-pics, which can be judged according to their accuracy. In doing so, Oday’s misdeeds are made mythic and Devil’s Double becomes more operatic in tone. Tamahori also wanted to create a new archetype for the associates of rich and powerful people who take advantage of their position to commit crimes against humanity. It’s possible, too, that Tamahori was influenced by reports that Yahia had made up the story and he didn’t want facts to get in the way of a good movie. And, from what we’ve learned about Uday, Devil’s Double would be a powerful yarn even if only half of it were true. The late Moammar Ghadafi’s sons appear to have been cast from the same mold."
Mountain Xpress' Ken Hanke:
"In the film, Latif is a soldier who is first asked to be Uday's double, then tortured and finally blackmailed into taking the job to protect his family. This perhaps redefines the idea of an "offer he can't refuse," but that's probably deliberate because the film paints Uday as a gangster -- and it does the same, to some extent, to his father Saddam (Philip Quast). It just happens that the Husseins run a country, rather than a crime syndicate. In fact, quite a few people have likened the presentation of Uday to the Al Pacino character in Brian De Palma's 1983 remake of Scarface. The comparison is not without merit, though I'd say Uday wins in the raging-lunatic department."
Marshall and the Movies:
"That being said, unfortunately, most of the redeeming value of The Devil’s Double begins and ends with Dominic Cooper’s breakthrough performance. It’s a classic example of a good actor ruined by a ho-hum movie that spoils the chance of him getting the attention he really deserves. Director Lee Tamahori is where I place the root of these problems. The guy must have set out to make Scarface in Iraq because at times it just feels like a cry for Brian De Palma and Al Pacino to notice him. Clearly he’s a little too adrenaline-happy trying to replicate Tony Montana because the movie just goes way over the top in ways that it doesn’t need to go there."
Sabotage Times' Richard Luck:
"For a short while there, it looked like Dominic Cooper was going to become the next big thing in British film. A standout in both the stage and film versions of The History Boys and one of the few decent things about Starter For 10, the boy from Greenwich might have been a touch on the short side but he had charisma to burn. Then there was that rather wet supporting turn in the otherwise pretty decent The Duchess and that part in Mamma Mia! which no doubt paid a fortune but came at the price of his testicles. If it wasn’t for his good work in The Escapist and An Education, you could have been forgiven for thinking James Corden’s former housemate was but the latest in a long line of could-have-beens.
But now The Devil’s Double has arrived and all such doubts have disappeared. For in this fact-based story of the man hired to impersonate Saddam Hussein’s playboy son Uday, our man gives a performance that’s so over-the-top and entertaining, it can’t help but recall Al Pacino’s to-the-edge work in Scarface. Of course, this latest offering from the cross-dressing Kiwi Lee Tamahori doesn’t hit the same heights as Brian De Palma’s crime epic. It’s an engaging picture, though, featuring genuinely witty dialogue and a clutch of fine supporting turns. And while Cooper’s double performance could have come on like the worst sort of acting stunt, he’s so good you wouldn’t be surprised if he copped a nomination (or maybe two) when the BAFTAs come around next year."
The Guardian's John Patterson:
"Uday's a handful, living out some Baathist-inflected fantasia on De Palma's Scarface, shooting off guns indoors, plucking schoolgirls off the streets and raping them, exercising Caligulan droit du seigneur over a war hero's new bride, prompting her suicide, and mutilating and disembowelling his own dad's food-taster at a banquet to honour Mrs Hosni Mubarak (par-TAY!). Scotch, vodka, cigars, cocaine, heroin, porn, torture, rape and murder are his toys and his games, so he's the most nightmarish playmate you can imagine. And with all these mirrors and doppelgangers, it's like a psychopathic remake of The Parent Trap."
Mother Jones' Asawin Suebsaeng:
"But The Devil's Double's biggest problems stem from its inability to decide whether it wants to be a morality play, an exploitation flick, Scarface in Mesopotamia, or a Greek tragedy."