THRILLER; 1hr 49min
STARRING: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier
Double date: Sagnier and Cooper
Nowhere is there a more blatant case of looks determining destiny than with the life and times of Latif Yahia (Cooper) in director Lee Tamahori’s rocking film of Yahia’s 2003 memoir. The year is 1987 and Yahia’s identical-twin resemblance to Saddam Hussein’s frenzied eldest son, Uday (Cooper again), sees the luckless army lieutenant forced into live-in service as Uday’s shielding mirror-image-slash-doormat. And forced would be the operative word. Uday is a spoiled, sadistic, sexually rapacious madman; to disobey him is death.
Cooper makes a sensational triple threat as the morally appalled and reticent Yahia, the dementedly mile-a-minute Uday and as Yahia reluctantly pretending to be Uday while becoming dangerously captivated by Uday’s come-hitherish mistress, Sarrab (Sagnier). Once Were Warriors’ Tamahori gives free rein throughout to the graphic craziness: the overwhelming wealth of Saddam’s Baghdad palace, the horrendous violence casually meted out and the insane hedonism of unchecked supremacy are on lurid display in a thriller so flesh-creeping it’s a tough act to swallow as the hard, cold truth.