A chilling vision of the House of Saddam Hussein comes to life through the eyes of the man who was forced to become the double of Hussein’s sadistic son
Okay before I get into this review there are a few disclaimers that I have to start with, because the film is a bit of a hand grenade.
1. I understand that films (even Hollywood films) are used as propaganda during times of war. They even sometimes win academy awards…
2. I also recognise that the history of a military conflict is defined by the people who WON, its part of winning a war, you get to tell the story your way -mostly because if you did a good job “at war” the losers are dead.
3. When reviewing a film I think you need to ignore stuff like the propaganda aspect of a film and just watch it as a film.
4. Ultimately if a film is labeled “based on a true story” or better yet in this case base on the book by the guy who was there, I understand a very important principal of film making, which is you still got to sell tickets. So again I don’t care how “real it is” because the job of the people who make films is to make them interesting, don’t believe ask H.G. Lewis. So let me throw this hypothetical at you…
If you’re auto biography is about how you were held hostage for 3 month blind folded and in the dark and feed just one meal with no human contact its really boring, I don’t want to see a film that 100% accurate by showing me 3 months straight of blackness… Fuck, I can barely sit through 2 minutes of Andy Warhol’s “Sleep.”
Luckily for the producers of “The Devils Double” the main character Latif Yahia was “imprisoned” as Uday Hussein’s double, like the guy that looks like him so he (Uday) doesn’t do public appearances but his double is there for the sake of the double getting assassinated –and Uday knew how to party, with lots of sluts. Now if you’re saying to yourself that Uday Hussein name sounds kind of familiar but why should I know it, Uday Hussein is the son of Saddam Husain as in the former leader of Iraq and head of the bath separatist party not to be confused with the shower united party.
Now before his death at the hands of the U.S. army in 2003 Uday was the ultimate frat boy, in that he mastered the three main skills of being an ultimate frat boy: he was a heavy drug user, he excelled at date rape and according to this film he loved being close to his mom’s boobs… uncomfortably close and as an adult… like getting ready to breast feed from a 60 year old woman… but no quite… and that is according to this film… Which is okay, remember even if The New York Times printed it as the truth we are still watching a movie, which means that it’s NOT real. Even if it happened, it’s still not real, because the stuff you see in a film or no a TV is representation of reality and while the “image” might represent a real thing if you think you saw it on TV is real, remember life has no rewind feature…
So when I call Uday Hussein a child molesting pig f*cking piece of sh*t, I’m merely making reference to the Uday of the film “The Devil’s Double.” Not making reference to real the Uday Hussein, who I’m sure was a wonderful person and probably a further contribution to the reason why I don’t believe in a “god.” Sorry for the digression into lack of faith, but if there is a “god” that is “good” I can’t accept that he would let people like Hitler and Kim Kardashian live, never the less live well… but back to the film… The fact is that everything I’m saying about the guy in this review is based on what I’ve seen in this film, not any kind of separate propaganda I may have read. I don’t want to apply the “propaganda” aspect to this film for one really good reason “The Devil’s Double” is an awesome f*cking film. I don’t care about what real people did in real life, I’m watching a movie and I accept that it is FAKE. I totally believe it when I’m watching it and to me that makes a film worth watching.
When I say propoganda, No, I don’t mean it’s “The Triumph of the Will” –a film that almost got the director of the film tried as a Nazi war criminal and Lein Rosenthal killed no one. But I felt pretty lucky that for the 109 minutes of the film Lee Tamahori and Dominic Cooper and Ludivine Sagnier kept me very entertained. The film has some really amazing acting in it, kinda show stopping at time. In fact I think the two most impressive feats of acting in the film are Dominic Cooper playing both the role of Uday Hussein and Latif Yahia (both the oppressed and the oppressor )and Ludivine Sagnier gets naked. Ludivine Sagnier could pass for Lady Gaga with a better body and a not so f*cked up face. Yes people, I think we need to be honest, Lady Gaga has the face of a train wreck, Ludivine Sagnier does not.
Now as far as the actual torture stuff goes, this film is kind of light… It’s not “Hostile,” nor is it trying to be, this is a very solid drama more than anything else about the things that people will suffer to protect their loved ones and to ultimately survive with some if any dignity in tacked… Sometimes. This really I think pushed the audience on the tension of what might happen rather than what is happening, and in that regard I have to say the film is way more a thriller then it is a horror film.
The plot of the film is really basic, a guy who kinda and a big whopping kinda looks like Uday is chosen by Uday to be his double and then is forced to put up with all kinds of sh*t and indignities that he has to witness, not really “180 Days of Sodom” or even “Caligula” but this film again isn’t meant to be like that. On a side note “ I, Caligula Caesar, Command in the name of the senate and the People of Rome!” Sorry, had to get that in there the world needs more Malcolm MacDowell moments.
Now when I say Latif “kinda” looks like Uday, it really is a “kinda” kind of deal, so they force him to get plastic surgery to make him look more like Uday, wear dentures as well as some really metrosexual outfits. I mean imagine being force to dress like you’re on “The Jersey Shore” all the time. Which I think the lowest scene in the film is when the character willingly puts on Ray Bans… Think about it they didn’t even sink that low in”180 Days of Sodom” granted there was a little pooping but the indignity of Ray bans? And we are talking about the 80’s Ray Ban’s too. Well that and having his family constantly threatened with death.
If this film were slightly re-tooled I could see it a modern Hitchcock-ian thriller lacking a “who done it” aspect, however the politics and and coked up middle eastern douche bags trying to f*ck 14 year olds I really think aren’t really Hitches kind of material. But think about it this way, if you going off the film concept of the McGuffin* the entire film is a McGuffin from the time that the head of the Iraqi Olympic committee comes into the room and excitingly shows Latif a torture video that was made for Uday. Get it Uday is the ticking bomb of the movie and you never know when he’s going to go crazy and just gut someone… or kill someone or rape someone etc…
“The Devils Double” is solid whether or not you agree with very “former Iraqi dictatorship family where d*cks” politics of the film, it’s worth seeing. If you were for or against the war in Iraq, a solider or a pacifist, a former or current, person for or against Saddam rule. Or even if you are an Iraqi citizen this is still a good film… However I don’t think the Husain family would allow you to see this film, I think they had some kind of censorship in regards to their leadership… I think there is a chance that they might torture and kill you for watching this film… but I’m just going off what I saw in this movie, and who knows that might have possibly happened in the real world too…
And even if it didn’t enjoy the entertainment, it’s one of the things that some movies are good for!
*A concept defined as the director shows you there is a ticking bomb in a suit case but none of the characters know about the bomb. Hitchcock’s “Sabotage” is a great example of this.
The Devil’s Double (2011)