directed by Lee Tamahori
The one sheet looked amazing, but I knew better, and after getting a load of Lee Tamahori’s glossy disappointment of a biopic, I found that my instincts served me well. The story of Latif Yahia and his life as the reluctant stand-in for Uday Hussein, Sadam Hussein’s loose cannon son, had so much promise: the story of a life cultivated in a consequential vacuum, a frightening meditation on nature versus nurture and the darkness that can grow from absolute privilege. Too bad Lion’s Gate had to get hold of this potentially astounding biopic, sliming the whole works up with Saw style gore (though toned down) and Transporter style cinematography (again, toned down), finally leaving the whole thing up to Tamahori (whose resume is slightly less than stellar). The biggest tragedy of all of this is the sad fact that Dominic Cooper’s monstrously phenomenal performance(s) will most likely be overlooked because the rest of the film was weak. And make no mistake, Cooper’s turn as both the pauper and the prince, Jekyll and Hyde, is a powerhouse testament to the craft. Almost instantly I forgot about marveling over Cooper acting against himself in many scenes, instead truly seeing the characters as two different people. Even the times when Cooper is playing Latif playing Uday, he manages such nearly imperceptible differences that you can still tell it’s Latif. We’re talking about some spectacular layers here, commentary on one personality by another, then blurring the lines between the two, then mocking himself, the list goes on. This is like the first time I saw Monster’s Ball, and I realized that Heath Ledger was actually an amazing actor, or when I first saw Ryan Gosling’s promise in The Believer. Cooper is a talent to watch, even in a film as otherwise forgettable as this.
The one sheet, in case you haven’t feasted your eyes: