Last night, PJ and I watched The Devil’s Double, which tells the story of Latif Yahia, who was forced to become the body double for Uday Hussein, Sadam Hussein’s psychotic son. Based on a true story, The Devil’s Double stars Dominic Cooper as both Latif and Uday in a memorizing performance that makes this movie a must-see. Here’s the trailer:

Cooper is amazing in this role. In the past, I’ve mostly thought of him as a sexy actor. In such movies as Momma Mia!, An Education, The Duchess, and The History Boys, he stands out as a handsome, attractive man rather than as an accomplished actor. The Devil’s Double certainly makes the most of his physical attractiveness. Early in the movie, for example, we see him in various states of undress, such as with his shirt unbuttoned:

In a speedo:

And nude:

Towards the end, we also seem him in a sex scene that again features his beautiful ass. While Cooper is lovely to look at, I quickly stopped lusting after him and instead became enamored with his performance, which is spectacular.

Cooper plays both the psychopath Uday and the more normal Latif so well that the audience can always tell who is who, even when they’re not on-screen together. That he embodies both men so well is amazing. His whole physicality changes depending on which character he is at a given moment. One of the features on the DVD explains how they shot the scenes in which both character are on-screen simultaneously. The fact that Cooper is in almost every shot is also impressive. It’s one of the great performances of the year, I think.

While Cooper is great, there are a couple of plot points in the movie that could have been better. The plot basically revolves around the question of whether Latif will ever escape Uday’s sadism. I knew before watching the movie what the answer to that question is — it’s based on a true story, so we know he’s  got to live, so he must get away eventually. The details of that escape are too sketchy in the movie. It’s almost as if the filmmakers decided that this wasn’t really an important point that needed to be explained, making part of the last act rather difficult to understand. I would have liked a little more detail in this part.

I should also note that the movie is very violent, as one should expect with this subject matter. It doesn’t shy away from the horror caused by Hussein and his family. I think that’s good. It’s also somewhat sexually graphic, though the violence is more graphic than the sex, which sometimes overlaps with the violence. It’s a sometimes difficult movie to watch, but I also admired that quality. It’s kind of fearless in its depiction of these aspects of the regime and of war.

All in all, The Devil’s Double was a very good movie and definitely worth watching. Cooper is great in this role, and it suggests what he’s capable of. I hope he gets the chance to give this caliber of performance again (and is acknowledged for it).