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The Devil’s Double (2011)

December 12, 2011

MY CALL:  A very cool movie driven by characters rather than the fictionalized story of the fall of Uday Hussein.  Beautifully shot, and gripping.  [B+]  IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:  Other decent movies where the same actor plays multiple roles include Face/Off, Double Impact, Austin Powers, The Social Network and Dead Ringers.  TRAILER: click here.

So MoviesFilmsandFlix’s very own Mark gave me a call saying “it would be really cool to get a review of The Devil’s Double up this week.”  I had just written this up the day before after I christened by Blu-Ray player with it.  Good timing and good taste, Mark!

I’ve gotta’ be honest here.  I liked this movie before it even started!  The movie poster, alone, tells an amazing story beyond the often-misleading Hollywood blip we typically find in life-sized cardboard at the local multiplex.  Following suit with strong impressions, the film opens with actual stock footage of Saddam’s grotesque war-mongering tyranny, and then transitions to a stunning Iraqi landscape with, arguably, the most beautifully crisp sunset I’ve seen in a movie.  The lighting seems harsh; deliberately over-yellowed and blaring.

There is little more story than the hook of the movie itself, and  I have to admit I didn’t find it great, but somehow I was captivated!  Latif (Dominic Cooper; Captain America) is an Iraqi war hero with strong family values.  Uday (also played by Dominic Cooper) is a sociopath whose indulgences and small, impish laugh leave only suffering in his wake. Seeing Latif beside Uday, learning to emulate Uday, and coming to hate him while becoming all the more like him…very cool.

The shots in this movie were crisp and made tactful motifing use of reflections in various manners.  The lighting, harsh yet beautiful, often yields indicative rays or glows hovering about our main characters as if to come just shy of haloing God’s chosen of the House Saddam and their Godsend, Latif.  Amidst smart wardrobing and solid cinematography, the filmmakers have more tricks yet, catching me off guard with occasional scenes of brusque brutality alternatingly mitigated by oddly endearing scenes such as when Latif watches Saddam and his double enjoy a cool drink in between the games of their tennis match (against each other).

The movie takes a telegraphed turn as Latif, forced and abused into his servitude all the while listening as it is called ‘love’ and ‘honor’, resists his ungrateful host.  Then things get ugly in this fictionalized account of the fall of Uday Hussein.

[Does this remind anyone else of Scarface?]

6 Comments leave one →
  1. VJ Long permalink
    December 12, 2011 8:54 am

    I added this to my queue before even reading the review. totally agree with John, that’s one sweet movie poster. if i were to ever get a self portrait…

    oh and as always solid review by John! good on ya looking forward to this one

    • johnleavengood permalink
      December 13, 2011 7:19 am

      For a long time–even one month prior to release–this movie didn’t even have a final edit trailer out. So I ended up seeing it blind. No regrets on that, though.

  2. Qusay "Sweet Sugar" Hussein permalink
    December 12, 2011 8:09 pm

    So how would you characterize the movie? Drama? Action? Character development? Adventure? Fat?

    • johnleavengood permalink
      December 13, 2011 7:17 am

      It’s a schizophrenic-a-la-Scarface, fictionalized historic drama. Hmmm…maybe that little inkling should have made it into the review.


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