Dom Hemingway
Fox Searchlight Pictures // R // April 2, 2014
Review by Olie Coen | posted April 16, 2014
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Director: Richard Shepard
Starring: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Emilia Clarke
Year: 2014

With the extremely wide variety of films that Jude Law has starred in, you might think you've seen it all. After all, he was the biggest movie star on the planet for a time there in the early 2000s, crafting character after character, delivering unforgettable performances, and in his career has done just about every genre there is. He was a spoiled playboy in The Talented Mr. Ripley, a Russian war hero in Enemy at the Gates, a gigolo robot in A.I., an ugly assassin in Road to Perdition, a Southern soldier in Cold Mountain, a futuristic pilot in Sky Captain, and that's just in a span of five years. He's a very talented and attractive actor who is just now going through another surge in films, showing the world that his prime is nowhere near over. And although we've all seen him before, watched him in so many differing roles, we've never seen one quite like Dom Hemingway.

Dom is a card-carrying member of the London underground. He's a thief by trade, specializing in safes, known for his quick work & magic hands. But as the story starts, Dom isn't practicing his profession, he's getting out of prison where he has spent the last twelve years. He was caught, sure, but he never squealed on his employer, so a big pay off & an even bigger thank you are waiting for him in France. Getting there is no problem, not with the help of his friend Dickie, but staying sober & coherent long enough to receive his reward might be. And controlling his anger, his mouth, and his libido might be an even tougher challenge, as over a decade in jail puts a man in a rather unfriendly mood. Dom's got to get his money, reconcile with his now-grown daughter, organize his life, and basically keep from being killed as he tries to navigate the streets that he used to know so well.

I've never seen Jude Law quite like this before, nor have I seen so much of his bum. He takes the character of Dom Hemingway to a gritty place that most audiences won't recognize, not in the heartthrob that they might picture from ten years ago. Law has aged and expanded apparently, but didn't lose his talent in the process. He plays the boozing, vulgar, mixed-up Dom perfectly, a role that seemed hand-crafted just for him. It's a dirty side that we've not seen before, a criminal side that reminds me of Jason Statham in Snatch but with a ton more acting prowess. Dom is a cool cat, a hard-nosed thug who likes to dress up and bash a few noses. It's a very interesting character and definitely well-played by Law, bringing something to the screen that surprises at first, hooking audiences for the rest of the film, forcing us to wonder what Dom will do next.

And the side characters were fairly strong as well. Grant as Dom's best friend Dickey was a really amusing character, a straight man and comedic relief at various times. Demian Bichir as Mr. Fontaine, Dom's employer, was solid, a classic villain in a villa. No one else really stood out, but then again the movie is all about Dom and not much else is needed. The film started well, really focusing on Dom's life, his anger, his loveability despite his brashness. But somewhere in the middle it began to lose focus. It stopped being entertaining, slowed down, introduced a horrible actor in the form of Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and generally went downhill. By the end I had enjoyed the formation of the main character, his insane view on life, and the dark comedy that followed him wherever he went. But the film as a whole failed to keep me on board the whole way though, fading by the finale and ending without a bang. Watch Dom Hemingway for Jude Law, appreciate the irreverence the film shows, but don't expect a perfect production.



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