August 21, 2011
Director: Lee Tamhori
Writer: Michael Thomas
Starring: Dominic Cooper
"When you say your prayers tonight, remember this: Latif Yahia died in Iran. You are Uday Saddam Hussein." Latifa Yahia (Cooper) is approached to become the body double for Uday Hussein (Cooper), and soon learns what a mixed bag this is: while he shares in Uday's riches and privilege, he also must stand idly by, tolerating the intensely psychotic behavior from the Iraqi leader's son.
Movies like this live or die based on the performance of the lead, and I'm proud to say this one lived. Latif and Uday couldn't be further from each other, and are nearly the opposite sides of different coins, with Uday's outlandish abuses of his status mirrored by Latif's nearly-always suppressed disgust at what he now sees on a daily basis. The two even have different vocal inflections, and are unmistakable for the other by the audience. The accent as Latif's a bit weak from the outset, though, and noticeably begins to slip halfway through. In terms of story, there's a sex scene that literally comes out of nowhere, and a subsequent romantic subplot never fully reasoned that vanishes with as little substance as it first came. The film's climax and resolution obviously are severely dramatized; as interesting as the story really is, certain liberties get taken for dramatic effect. Most of all, though, the film is as gratuitous as Uday lived. Everything that can be in a film working to an R rating is here: murders, rape, language, torture...very obvious that a movie like this couldn't be made until the Husseins were toppled (however you feel about that), and while it's a story I was glad to know, certainly not one for the faint of heart. B+