Director: Lee Tamahori
Stars: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast, Mimoun Oaïssa, Khalid Laith, Dar Salim
Imagine an Iraqi take on The Sopranos, with Saddam Hussein in the Tony role, wringing his hands in despair at the young generation (Why must they torture in public? Isn’t that why we have Abu Ghraib?). This blinged-up, bizarre film is loosely based on an autobiography by Latif Yahia, who for five years was the body-double of Uday Hussein, Saddam’s sadistic first born. Weirdly, it’s in English with non-Iraqis playing the central characters. British actor Dominic Cooper plays both Latif and Uday – acquitting himself pretty well in the circumstances.
Uday’s psychotic streak was too much even for Saddam, who relegated him to number two successor. In 1987 he summoned Latif, an old school friend with an uncanny likeness, and made him an offer: become my body-double or I’ll kill your family. Latif underwent plastic surgery so that not even the Hussein family could tell the two men apart (though, as Uday’s brother notes, you know you’re watching Latif on TV because, ‘He’s sober and not foaming at the mouth.’).
What makes The Devil’s Double unsettling is its tone. In places, Uday is played for laughs, introduced as a mummy’s boy. But elsewhere, Tamahori doesn’t hold back from showing the worst of Uday’s depravity: we see him searching for barely pubescent girls to abduct. The result is a film which is even more tasteless than its main character’s gold ’n’ marble palace. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs140,695
Weekly admissions: 3,717
Total box office: Dhs1,616,190
Total admissions: 45,644