What movie was that...?

20 August 2011

The Devil's Double

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:

4 comments:

  1. Interesting review.

    Cooper's performance alone would probably be enough for me to check this one out, I'm curious to see just how great he is.

    It's a shame the rest of the film wasn't so good though, it's certainly a very rich subject matter...

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  2. The poster for this film caught my eye just a couple of hours ago as I drove along the A57 from Manchester to Sheffield...It's a small world.
    Shame the movie doesn't live up to the one sheet!

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  3. Dammit. I've been looking forward to this one.

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  4. I know. It's a shame, really. The film could truly have been one of the greats. I'm not sure how it Dominic Cooper fares in Europe, but over here he is only known for his role Mama Mia(ugh) and, for those of us who seek out those stuffy "art films," An Education. This is precisely the reason why I wanted to see this film so badly. I love when actors who haven't really had a chance to show their range land roles that allow them to break out in a big way, and Cooper sure does.

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