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I’m Glad I Relented and Saw ‘The Devils Double’

I didn’t want to be reminded of my early support of the Iraq War, but the plight of Uday Hussein’s body double is gripping — thanks to actor Dominic Cooper

Have you ever not wanted to see a film, only to leave the theater having witnessed what you believe is an Oscar-worthy performance? 

Just wait until nominations are announced and you see Dominic Cooper as a contender.

This 33-year-old British actor is stupendous in “The Devil’s Double” and makes you weep inside for the suffering his real-life character, Latif Yahia, endured under Saddam Hussein’s bloody rule of Iraq.

I never wanted to see “The Devil’s Double.” Who wants to watch more about Iraq and see our nation's needless plundering that killed millions and destroyed national monuments — treasures that had survived barbaric civilizations prior to the Bush reign? A war that ran our nation into debt?

I did not want to be reminded of the shame I had for our country and for myself. I remember myself sitting in front of the TV, cheering along with millions as we bombed innocent people and reveled in our “shock and awe” campaign.

Bravo to Cher and to Janeane Garofalo who stood up to the Bush PR campaign and said  “this war is a mistake" — enough of this bloodshed.

These women went on national TV to protest when thousands like me shamefully cheered the bombing that Cher said had become reality TV.

I did not want to be reminded of my support of the war. Why should I see “The Devil’s Double”?

Well, this film is not in support of the bombing, but about a soldier in the Iraq Army being forced to be Uday Hussein’s body double during the plundering of Iraq by the United States. Yahia is a man who suffered by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The sadistic, power hungry, psychopath, playboy son of Saddam Hussein (Philip Quast), Uday Hussein needed a body double to stand in for him at public appearances and be a target for “would-be” assassins.

In the late 1980s Latif Yahia was tortured by Uday Hussein to the point that he lost his little finger and his father.

Besides Cooper’s masterful performance as he played both Uday and Latif, the special effects are seamless. When both Uday and Latif are in the same scene — and even in a hammerlock from which Latif is trying to escape — it is close to impossible to imagine that both these actors are the same person.

Abuse of women is rampant and necessary to show Uday’s character. One of his first lines to Latif is, “How’s your sister? The one with the big tits. The one I always wanted to f—," he says this with a laugh showing his rabbit teeth. False teeth had to be made for Latif so that he was the perfect body double.

This film is violent and has many sadistic scenes which I do not believe to be gratuitous but are essential to show the terror Latif was forced to endure. You will have sympathy for Latif and detest Uday, and you’ll cheer when Latif plots his escape.

Sundance did the honors of first showing this film from the novel by Latif. Yes, he writes, too!

Michael Thomas has written a fast moving and cohesive screenplay from chaotic and chilling events that led to Uday Hussein’s demise. Lee Tamahori directs with skill and terrific editing. This film shows that you do not need a star to make a tour de force film. You need a good story, good special effects and good actors — and this is what “The Devil’s Double” is about.

Carole Mallory is an actress, journalist, professor, film critic. Her film credits include “Stepford Wives” and “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.” As a supermodel she graced the covers of Cosmopolitan, New York, Newsweek. Her new novel, "Flash," hit #22 on Kindle's bestseller list of erotica in its first day of release. She also has written a memoir of her time with Norman Mailer, “Loving Mailer.”  After the writer's death, she sold her archive of his papers to Harvard. Her journalistic pieces on Vonnegut, Jong, Vidal, Baryshinikov, Heller have been published in Parade, Esquire, Playboy, Los Angeles Magazine, the Huffington Post. Her review of Charles Shields' biography of Kurt Vonnegut, "And So It Goes," was published in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer.  She is teaching creative writing at Temple University and Rosemont College and blogs at malloryhollywoodeast@blogspot.com.

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