Iraq, in the 90s, under Saddam Hussein, probably isn't everybody's idea of a good time. But one man was apparently having a lot of fun. Well, that's according to Lee Tamahori's biopic of Uday Hussein (the devil of the title) and Latif Yahia – his double.

Enjoying a life of orgies, drugs, money and violence, Uday (youngest son of the dictator) slept with who he wanted (including a bride of a friend on her wedding day and schoolgirls) and killed those who tried to stop him. One long party, yeah?

Well, no, actually, it was obviously horrid, as Uday made enemies across the board, including Latif himself, who hated being at the mercy of his master. In the end, he got his comeuppance, but not before he ruined a whole lot of people's lives.

In what could be his true breakout role, Dominic Cooper as both Uday and Latif is extraordinary – he's able to switch between the two easily, making sure that neither is less than three-dimensional. The slithering, petulant, childishness of Uday is perfectly put across, in comparison to the contemplative, well-meaning and ultimately very sexy Latif.

Sadly, though, the film doesn't live upto such a great performance. There's no real explanation as to why Uday needs a doppleganger (apart, obviously, from the fact that everybody who ever came into contact with him probably wanted to kill him). It probably is true that he was able to get away with the lifestyle he had, but you can't help thinking that his father – who appears in a few scenes and comes across as something of a moral zenith compared – would have been aware enough to try and restrain him. Not that Uday would have listened.

Ludivine Sagnier, the female co-star, is effective as the woman who falls for Latif and helps him get out of Iraq, but her French accent doesn't really cut it as an Arab one (and neither does her wig). There are good dramatic scenes – the aforementioned sleeping with the bride on her wedding day, which is brutal, and his very easy shooting of a trusted aide at a party, which is somewhat of a moodkiller to say the least.

All in all though, it's a shame that the film doesn't stand up to support a brilliant double turn by Cooper – and what is surely an amazing story that needs to be told.