“No less than this generation’s SCARFACE” — Dan Mecca, THE FILM STAGE
“A rocket-powered thriller... veritably blisters with tension” — Peter Debruge, VARIETY
Director: Lee Tamahori
Screenplay: Michael Thomas, from Latif Yahia
Cast: Dominic Cooper, Philip Quast, Ludivine Sagnier, Maehmet Ferda, Latif Yahia
Producers: Paul Breuls, Michael John Fedun, Catherine Vandeleene
Print Source: Maple Pictures
Whether in favour of or opposed to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, few shed many tears over the fall of Saddam Hussein and his family. Much has been said of the large-scale atrocities perpetrated under Hussein’s dictatorship, but there’s a particularly lurid hue to the tales of his sons Qusay and Uday, killed in 2003. Given to shocking, shameless acts of violence, Saddam Hussein’s firstborn son Uday liked to refer to himself as Abu Sarhan — the Wolf. Recently deposed Egyptian despot Hosni Mubarak called him a “psychopath.” To veteran Iraqi soldier Latif Yahia, today a writer, blogger and outspoken political firebrand, Uday Hussein was a rampaging monster. This Yahia knows firsthand. He didn’t just witness the man’s delirious decadence, sexual sadism, megalomania and murderous rage. In the mid-1980’s he became that man — his “fiday,” or body double.
THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE lifts the veil on a world of dizzying opulence and unrestrained hedonism, a high glamour masking the lowest depravity, and spins a tale so outrageous and excessive, it could only be true. Adapted from Yahia’s book of the same title, it recounts how the onetime classmate of Uday Hussein was terrorized into serving as his decoy for potential assassins. Subjected to months of rigorous training in speech and mannerisms, even surgically altered, Yahia’s very existence was turned upside-down. Essentially imprisoned amid the greatest luxury, knowing that the slightest mistake could be fatal, he had little choice but to imitate, even inhabit the presence of a man whose savagery was glaringly, unbearably clear — while clinging desperately to his own suppressed identity.
It’s the task of stage and screen actor Dominic Cooper (MAMMA MIA!, THE ESCAPIST, this summer’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER) to capture the characters of, and nuanced contrasts between, both the psychotic Uday and his reluctant stand-in Yahia. He does so under the assured guidance of New Zealand-born director Lee Tamahori. From literally hard-hitting works like ONCE WERE WARRIORS, THE EDGE and MULHOLLAND FALLS through THE SOPRANOS, the XXX films with Vin Diesel and the James Bond film DIE ANOTHER DAY, Tamahori’s resume makes him the perfect choice for the job. By the way, watch for Yahia himself in the film, as Saddam’s son-in-law Kamel Hussein, the doomed defector.