A "Hell" of a Task

[Rating: 3.5]

Director: Lee Tamahori  
 
Cast & Crew: Michael Thomas, Dominic Cooper , Ludivine Sagnier , Raad Rawi , Philip Quast , Mimoun Oaïssa , Khalid Laith , Dar Salim , Nasser Memarzia , Mem Ferda , Pano Masti , Akin Gazi , Stewart Scudamore , Amrita Acharia , Elektra Anastasi , Amber Rose Revah
 
Plot Summary: Baghdad under Saddam, the playground for the rich and infamous, where anything can be bought – but for a price. This is Uday Hussein’s world and with his depraved lust for debauchery and immorality, he helps himself to whatever turns him on. When army lieutenant Latif Yahia is summoned to Saddam’s palace, he is faced with an impossible request – to be Uday`s ‘fiday’ – his body double, or have his family condemned to death. In a world entrenched in betrayal and corruption, knowing who to trust becomes a matter of life or death for Latif, as he battles to escape from his forced existence. 
 
Review: Uday Hussein is one of Iraq’s cruellest and most sadistic man in power and attracts a lot of negative attention. Body doubles are the way to go and a horrified lookalike of the tyrant, Latif Yahia, relates his service under the Devil himself. Absolute power bears the power to corrupt anyone absolutely, and suddenly, Latif finds himself to be the bearer of such power.

Latif is surgically altered to be more of a look-alike than he already is. That being not enough, he is given unrestricted access to all of Uday’s worldly belongings, but for the price of being a part of the murderous and torturous life that he has to lead to keep up appearances. Latif, though unmoved in the beginning, now feels really constricted, and the good man in him has begun to rebel. The pressure of playing the double is mounting upon him and now he has an added complication of having slept with Uday’s mistress, which is completely forbidden.

Dominic Cooper lights up every scene he’s in, which is pretty much all the time, and he dominates the screen with his methodical acting. He is faced with an almost impossible task of playing three different roles: as Uday, as Latif, and as Latif impersonating Uday. He does them so brilliantly, it’s almost unbelievable that it has been the same man showing up on the screen.

Though there are quite a few hard-to watch scenes, there’s a lot less menace than a person would normally expect. Unlike the book, where Yahia could stop and explain what was running through his mind at any given moment, the movie gives no rest to the storyline to explain some of the finer aspects of it. The romance with the untouchable mistress looks almost force and shoehorned-in.

This one’s not the most earnest or the most "right on target" movie that you’ll see about Saddam and his reign of terror, but it definitely provides a fresh outlook on one of the Middle East’s most brutal dictator.

Avneet Ghai 

 

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