Award-winning stage actor Philip Quast certainly looks the part as Saddam, and there's a twisted "like father, like son" moment when, after Uday overdoses on sleeping pills, he bursts into his hospital room and, furious at his weakness, threatens to cut off his genitals. Jamie Harding, as brother Qusay, doesn't have many scenes, but a welcome moment of humor occurs when Uday calls his brother on the phone to praise Latif's performance as him, but Qusay isn't convinced. "For one thing, he's sober," he tells his brother. "And for another, he's not foaming at the mouth."
The film takes place prior to and during the first Gulf War, and the Malta locations are certainly evocative of what this environment may have been like. The set designs are also good, bringing the lavish Hussein palace and other environs to life. Strangely, two separate scenes in the same nightclub have the same song—"You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"—playing in the background. Maybe that was crazy Uday's favorite tune?
The violence isn't as pervasive as I'd been led to believe, but when it does come, it's shocking and effective. In one scene, Uday, furious at being called "queer" by one of his father's friends, dispatches the man in a way that would do Tony Montana proud. And when he rapes a young bride on the afternoon of her wedding, she jumps to her death, landing in the middle of the wedding party. Artistic license? Well, yes. But it also makes for compelling drama.
It's puzzling that Lionsgate would put The Devil's Double into such a limited release. There have been far inferior films hogging theater screens this past summer. And Cooper's performance is a real knockout.