A film loosely based on the real-life events of Latif Yahia, The Devil's Double explores a story of corruption, drugs, scandal, rape, and utter lunacy.
Yahia spent years as the double of Saddam Hussein's sadistic son Uday Hussein - a man described as completely psychotic. The film does an amazing job of capturing this utter chaos with precision and in horrific detail.
Many parts of the film have been dramatized and exaggerated for Hollywood purposes, but the main ideas and many of the actual events are from Yahia's own book The Devil's Double.
The film is grotesque and extremely difficult to watch at times, but brilliantly written and presented on screen. It hard to take your eyes off a single minute of it -- although sometime you'll want to. The things Uday did is truly disturbing.
The Devil's Double relies almost entirely on one actor - Dominic Cooper. This relatively unknown (although less so now) actor is unbelievably brilliant at playing two roles in the same film. It's hard enough for an actor to get the intricacies and little details for one character down, but Cooper seemlessly transitioned from the lunatic that is Uday to the horrified observer, Latif.
At the screening, director Lee Tamahori got it spot on when he said there would be no film if Cooper couldn't pull it off. And he pulls it off with flying colors.
Expect to see great things from this young Brit in the near future - I would even be so bold as to say he deserves an Oscar nod for this one.
French actress Ludivine Sagnier and Raad Rawi round out the cast nicely as Sarrab, a woman who plays her own games and trickery and Munem, the reluctant member of Uday's staff who takes a liking to Latif.
With a relatively small budget of $15 million, Tamahori does a great job of taking a story that no one wanted to produce and making it a masterpiece. At a time when films about Iraq have been overdone and generate limited interest in a weary public, The Devil's Double provides a fresh take on the Iraqi theme and focuses more on the people, rather than the war.
Weaving historical shots into the film gives it more authenticity and brings it back to the fact that all this was happening in reality - this is not a made-up story for Hollywood audiences, much of it is based on truth.
Overall, The Devil's Double is shocking -- both in its cinematic brilliance and in the devastating actions of one man.