Dom Hemingway

Dom Hemingway featured image


Richard Shepard, director and writer

Starring: Jude Law (Dom Hemingway), Richard E. Grant (Dickie), Demian Bichir (Mr. Fontaine), Emilia Clarke (Evelyn), Jumayn Hunter (Lestor), Madalina Diana Ghenea (Polina), Kerry Condon (Melody)

The hype
Jude Law attempts to give legitimacy to his roller coaster career by playing an over-the-top East End London gangster. To improve his Robert De Niro cred, Law put on weight by drinking 10 Coca Colas a day. Now, that’s dedication. The film premiered at TIFF and doesn’t seem to have won awards anywhere.

The appearances of Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones and Richard E. Grant, currently enjoying a renaissance of popularity as a character in Girls, may help to seduce younger viewers to the film.

The premise
Career criminal Dom Hemingway emerges from over a decade in prison, massively angry. His wife has died while he’s been in the pen and Dom’s daughter has grown up without a proper dad. Dom responds by giving a frightful beating to the fella who lived with his wife and tried to raise his daughter Evelyn in Dom’s absence.

Retiring to the local pub for a pint or two, Dom finds Dickie, his best mate, who lets him know that Mr. Fontaine is pleased with him. Turns out that Mr. Fontaine is an immensely wealthy gangster, who is exceedingly happy that Dom didn’t spill the beans that he participated in the robbery that put Mr. Hemingway behind bars.

Quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson,” Dickie and Dom are off to St. Tropez, where Mr. Fontaine resides with his gorgeous mistress Polina. While Mr. Fontaine wants to spend a decadent weekend with his old pals, Dom can’t control his anger issues. He denounces Fontaine and offers to sleep with Polina.

Happily, Dickie calms him down and Dom apologizes to all and sundry. Mr. Fontaine responds by giving Dom a huge fortune in cash. They all party but while driving their cars through the night, Mr. Fontaine is killed and Polina escapes with Dom’s fortune.

Dom and Dickie return to England where our favourite criminal tries to make amends with his Evelyn. She is less than pleased with him as is Lestor, the son of a gangster, who Dom used to know. Lestor almost castrates Dom—and, somehow, Mr. Hemingway learns his lesson.

Dom tries desperately to get close to his daughter and her son. Will he succeed? Or is our man doomed to be an angry loser?

The analysis
Dom Hemingway is less a film than a series of outrageous set pieces. Some of Dom’s obscene and lengthy soliloquies are amusing. Here’s a sample: “You’re nothing but a pestilence, an uphill gardener with a weak chin. You’re a filthafising thief, that’s what you are. You think you can steal from me? From me? From Dom Hemingway?”

Jude Law clearly is having fun with his character, cherishing his crazy nature. In fact, the film would be nothing without Law, who seizes the opportunity to show off his acting chops, in both the comic and melodramatic scenes.

Best of all is Law’s acting with Richard E. Grant. They’re terrific together, with Grant underplaying to Law’s hysterical macho-man.

Does it all hang together?

The skinny
No! Dom Hemingway is interesting as a calling card for Jude Law. And I’d love to see him with Richard E. Grant again.

But is the film funny? Not really. And that’s all you need to know.

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