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The Devil's Double, twice the performance and Top Movie10/10
10/10 After the slew of Iraq movies, all of them from the American soldiers perspective (Green Zone, The Hurt Locker, Three Kings) I found the subject matter of this film to be a refreshing change. What most people know or remember of Gulf war one, is completely overshadowed by Gulf war Two/ Iraqi Freedom. So to be able to go back in time and get a glimpse of Baghdad in it's hey day was a remarkable break from "Victory movies", this is the only movie about Iraq to date as seen from an Iraqi viewpoint. Yes, it's violent (not necessarily moreso than Saw, Texas chainsaw massacre et al) but then since it is a portrayal of events in a real persons life would you want it any other way? Dominic Cooper is just fantastic, he inhabits both characters flawlessly and for the most part you genuinely believe that he is two people.2 years ago
As for the excess, obscenity, gratuitous violence and material wealth that some other reviewers have complained about, well, that was Bagdad in the '80's, does it have to be dressed up in Military Fatigues screaming "U.S.A" to be a good movie? If you liked Scarface, if you want an action packed ride, if you love depth of colour and sound in your movie. If you want to see great acting from Dominic Cooper, then this is the movie for you.
When you go see it, ask yourself, what would you have done in the same situation as the main character Latif Yahia? Could you have survived, because, unless you hadn't heard it is based on a true story.
Watch and Enjoy, I have watched it twice and want to watch it again because each time I watch it I can't believe it's over, I want more! Stories like this don't come around everyday. Unless of course you want to watch another Hurt Locker, it may have won a lot of Oscars but The Devil's Double deserves more.
Entertaining inside view in the former Baghdad. Some discomforting parts, but without political intentions (quote from film maker)
8/10 I saw "The Devil's Double" at the Berlinale 2011. An unusual large number (over 300) stayed for the full 30 minutes of Q&A after the screening. The producer warned us that we should expect not too much of the political impact of this film. It is better (his words) to regard it as just a gangster movie. We also learned that the stand-in situation that seemed compressed here in a smaller time frame, in fact existed for a full 4 years. We saw that Latif succeeded in keeping his hands reasonably clean, but it cannot have been real for such a time span. We still may wonder how much of this life he was pulled-in, against his will and his nature, but nevertheless being part of it.2 years ago
According to the film maker, what we saw was in more respects not completely accurate. Some freedom was exercised while portraying the situation in Baghdad at that time. The existence of stand-in's, however, was realistic and publicly known. That went as far as showing them openly, if only to confuse potential attackers. It certainly reduced the risk in public appearances, since one could never know whether you saw the real one, or a double dressed and acting like the real one.
There were also questions about using English as the prime language. The producer had some arguments in favor of the choices made. Firstly, raising a 50M budget for a movie with Arabic speaking actors, was considered a Mission Impossible. Also, English is generally accepted as the standard movie language, spoken by Roman emperors as well as aliens from other planets.
The Q&A also revealed some facts about how Dominic Cooper handled his double role. We now know that he played both roles on the same day, given the entourage and colleague actors present that day. He always played the "lunatic" parts first, and (without much time in between) the "Latif" parts shortly after that. Of course, there was a challenge in keeping track of the places where the counterpart actor stood at particular moments during the scene. Anyway, if he missed a few and looked in a wrong direction at some instances, I did not notice it and I think the same of other people seeing this film for the first time.
At various moments throughout the screening the notion crossed my mind that this movie could be construed as a justification of overturning the Sadam regime, or (in other words) as propaganda in favor of George W for a completed project in Iraq. In retrospect, I don't think such a hidden meaning was intended. The film was not against Sadam as a dictator in particular, but rather against dictators in general. They existed and ruled since the time of the Roman emperors (and probably before that), and still are ruling nowadays in countries all over the world. We see the wrong side effects of unlimited power. We also see how uncooperative people were regarded "that is the thanks we get for uplifting this country" (or variations thereof).
Political issues and hidden meanings set aside, we saw a well constructed story line, believable casting, and an inside view in the palace and its inhabitants at that time. One can argue about the torture, punishment and other violent scenes, that these better could be left out, or otherwise included implicitly by telling about it (without showing actual pictures). On the other hand, leaving these out would change the film too much into a costume drama, thereby reducing the impact it now will have on the average viewer. Anyway, it is easy for us to criticize choices being made by the film makers. In my opinion they did their job very well, all things considered.
One Of The Best Films Of 2011
5/10 There are many ways to describe Uday Hussein, Saddam Hussein's oldest son. None of them are positive.2 years ago
The Devil's Double is a "take no prisoners" film that's as hard to watch as it is entertaining. It follows Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper), an Iraqi soldier from an upper class family, who is plucked from the war to act as Uday's double. Uday (also played by Cooper), remembers the comparisons the two would get when they jointly attended grade school. He asks Yahia to be his double - for both political and personal reasons. Like his father, Uday is in a constant state of worry over an assassination attempt. Further, he wants to send Yahia on personal trips that he himself doesn't wish to attend. Yahia, kind and warm, refuses, but is forced to with the threat of harm to his family. Yahia is given cosmetic surgery and dentures to complete the look.
Yahia is thrust into Uday's world. This is a world filled with rape, torture, murder, drugs, sex and money. The lifestyle that the Hussein's live is more than Presidential - it is royal. Immediately, Uday claims Yahia as his own property. Uday has grown into a monster, getting whatever he wants and never having to deal with the consequences. Yahia is who he wants. The atrocities he witnesses because of Uday disgust him, but he is stuck in this nightmare. We watch as Uday preys upon young girls walking home from school. We watch as he guts his father's best friend at a party. We watch Yahia struggle with the lifestyle he is forced to live. Uday's fascination with Yahia grows stronger and it enters your mind that Uday may actually be in love with his double. This doesn't necessarily mean in a romantic way, but because his love of himself is so great, that he sees Yahia as apart of himself.
While the rest, as they say, is history, I certainly don't want to spoil the way the rest of the film plays out. This is a movie that you must see for yourself!
The acting in dual roles by Cooper, his first film as lead, is Oscar worthy. He gives both men their own voices, mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, that instantly allow the viewer to tell them apart. Subdued and stoic, Cooper plays Yahia as a guilt ridden man, grappling with the life he has been thrust into. He plays Uday as a manic, hyper madman with a broken smile and a creepy laugh. You literally believe they are two different actors.
Latif is an ordinary man who is thrust into an extraordinary situation. An object of admiration for the President's son, he has no choice but to comply with the excruciating horrors that are put forth before him. Never once, however, do we seem his morals waver.
We know how it ends, but as with life, it's the journey that's important. The Devil's Double is the real life, Middle Eastern Scarface. Powerful, unsettling, thrilling and always entertaining, The Devil's Double, is quite easily one of the best movies of 2011.
Best movie 11/10
10/10 I saw The Devil's Double at the Sundance Film festival back in January. I didn't really know anything about the story, but there was such a buzz about it at the festival I thought, why not? that's what festivals are for, watching movies you might not normally see. I wasn't sorry that I did, from the first scene until the last I was gripped, I found myself laughing at times when normally you wouldn't, but that was the great thing about it, it was a roller-coaster ride. A gangster movie set in Baghdad in the 80's, the fact that it's based on a true story doesn't really hit you until you walk out, and you completely believe that the lead Dominic Cooper is two different people. Fantastic. Even more fantastic is the fact that the guy who the movie is about Latif Yahia is still alive! I've seen some people rate this movie with one or two stars, nonsense, 11 out of 10 it's great! But don't believe me, spend a few dollars and make up your own mind, you won't be sorry, I certainly wasn't.2 years ago
The Devil's Double 10/10
10/10 I started loving this film within the first few seconds. This film has many redeeming features and I personally found it very enjoyable. Director Lee Tamahori brings a lot of the key Oscar-winning players of the Slumdog team back for this new film. Latif / Dominic Cooper The human connection element was most fascinating, as we wonder what we would do if placed in a similar situation ??? We are really "with" Latif on his journey, as we see him discover a reason to live and how his life perspective changes, not just how to get free from Uday Saddam. The Devil's Double, does not simply prove the point that humans will do whatever it takes to survive in dire circumstances. In fact, I might argue 9 of 10 people wouldn't do what Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) does in this film. The Devil's Double, A Definite must-see 10/10 stars.2 years ago