This French dramatic thriller is so gleefully trashy that it's rather entertaining, as long as you don't try to take it seriously. Sleek and seductive, it's a pungent tale that plays out like a particularly lurid corporate soap. It also gives smart actresses Sagnier and Scott Thomas plenty of juicy material to play with as two women who try to derail each others' lives.
In the Paris office of a multinational corporation, Christine (Scott Thomas) is a fiercely ambitious executive looking for opportunities to advance her career. But then so is her brainy assistant Isabelle (Sagnier). And when Christine passes one of Isabelle's clever ideas off as her own, Isabelle gets even by seducing Christine's boyfriend (Mille) and deploying her assistant (Marquet) on secret missions. From here the manipulative manoeuvring accelerates, as both women try to get the upper hand. And Isabelle seems to be playing a much longer game.
Director Corneau fully indulges in the story's sordid elements, letting both Sagnier and Scott Thomas play up their characters' nasty ambitions as they engage in a vicious tit for tat. Every word and gesture is designed to bring the other one down a notch. As the balance of power shifts back and forth, we are aware that there's a larger plot developing off-screen, so watching it emerge is a lot of fun, especially then there's so much twisted chemistry between these two actresses and the hapless men they use to carry out their evil scheming.
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Based on a true story, The Devil's Double is about Latif Yahia and Uday Hussein (the latter of whom is the eldest son of future dictator Saddam Hussein) who were former school mates in Baghdad with a striking resemblance to each other. Years later, in 1987, Latif is summoned by Uday and is propositioned with what is described to him as a great honour: because of the two's similarity, Latif has been chosen to be Uday's body double, a deal he has no choice but to accept or have his family condemned to death.
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