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Dom Hemingway

April 11, 2014
Dom Hemingway

Like the poster says: Jude Law is Dom Hemingway, and you’re not. And, all things considered, you should probably be glad of it; it doesn’t look very pleasant.

Dom is an oversized lout of a career criminal, with a specialty in safecracking and a penchant for long, loud, self-aggrandizing rants. Just out of prison after a twelve-year stint, his first stop is to lay a beating down on the guy who married his ex-wife. Then it’s off to meet his old best mate Dickie (Richard E. Grant) at the pub, and Dickie takes him off to the South of France to get his just reward from Mr. Fontaine (Demián Bichir), the man Dom refused to rat on.

Reward or not, Dom’s also got to contend with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke), now raising a child and fronting a band with her Senegalese boyfriend (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). It’s no surprise she wants nothing to do with him. And then there’s Lestor (Jumayn Hunter), the son of one of Mr. Fontaine’s rivals, who has it out for Dom over the loss of his pet cat. Dom repeatedly cites his terrible luck, but luck is in part what you make of it, and Dom doesn’t do much to help himself.

Writer/director Richard Shepard has been over similar ground before. Most notably, 2005’s The Matador also dealt with a quirky, antiheroic criminal — a hit man in that case — reaching the end of his tether. But while Julian Noble was as endlessly charming as all of Pierce Brosnan’s characters across the moral spectrum, Dom Hemingway gets old fast. That’s part of why he’s stuck where he is, with only Dickie at his side, and him only tenuously at that, but it means it’s that much harder for us to like him as well.

To be fair, Jude Law does an excellent job with the character. Each time he flies completely over-the-top — once literally — it’s hilarious. But when you throw a half-dozen of them together they kind of lose their punch. The regular pattern of an escalating back-and-forth dialogue degenerating into the same profanity over and over again also runs a bit thin.

Shepard keeps the film moving along at a fair clip, and he keeps pulling stylish shots out of his bag, but the film keeps coming back to poor old sad-sack thug Dom Hemingway. By the time things start getting through to him, his move towards redemption is nothing we haven’t seen before. I’m glad for the guy to be moving in the right direction, but I’m more glad that that direction is away from me.

Worth It: not really.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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