Dom Hemingway isn’t a great film. It doesn’t really offer anything new in the way of stylish British ex-con films, but Jude Law makes an excellent case to look past that and revel in his performance.
Dom Hemingway is kind of a dick. He’s a man of extremes. He’s hot-tempered, an obnoxious drunk, waxes poetic about his own physical manhood, and he’s a superb safe-cracker, something for which he spent the past 12 years in prison. He is obviously delighted to be released, because now he can go find Mr. Fontaine, the boss Dom protected by keeping his mouth shut, and get a reward he feels he so justly deserves.
And a reward he does receive – something near a million pounds. But Dom, as previously noted, is a man of excess, and a temper, and these things make him prone to poor luck as a matter of circumstance. Alas, things go quickly awry, and Dom is left needing to find a way to turn his luck around yet again.
Jude Law is by far the best thing about this film in the title character, Dom Hemingway. He is so full of bravado, and Cockney swagger, yes, indeed very much the opposite of characters he usually plays. Bigger than life, a bit of a bastard, you almost have trouble feeling bad for him at all. But as we find how much he has lost at the expense of his complete loyalty to Mr. Fontaine, we begin to see a bit of his humanity. Dom has a daughter, AND a grandson, and he seems to genuinely want to make up for lost time. But that damn temper…well, you know, stuff happens, and things are complicated. His desire to make a big score gets in the way, and he’s made some enemies in the past, so those are certainly obstacles.
But Jude Law succeeds in making Dom’s yo-yo journey of windfall to downfall and back – and back, again – a rather heart-felt one. I can’t help but want to see this guy come out on top. He’s a victim of his own rules of loyalty, and following the rules of a game that no longer has any rules. Honor among thieves? Not anymore, Dom.
There is a fine cast in Dom Hemingway, though a couple of weird things make it feel off. The great Richard E. Grant plays Dom’s best friend, Dickie Black, who, though is fine here if you look at it with a certain perspective. He isn’t exactly the guy I think of when you are casting a tough guy hit man. But if you think of him as more of a quirky, hired gun type, well, that’s spot on. And this Mr. Fontaine is supposed to be a Russian mob boss living in France, but he speaks with more of a Spanish accent than anything. Whatever, if you’re picky you’ll be put off. I made note of it and moved on.
Also, the film takes a turn in the middle. We go from some wild, stylized Birtish caper type film to a more relaxed tone when Dom is trying to reconnect with his daughter, Evelyn (Emilia Clarke). I get that the tone shifts because Dom is tyring to change, but somehow it feels too extreme compared to the first half.
Dom Hemingway isn’t a great film. It doesn’t really offer anything new in the way of stylish British ex-con films, but Jude Law makes an excellent case to look past that and revel in his performance. He’s having a great deal of fun. He’s having at LEAST as much fun as I’ve had after a few pints and I start talking in a Cockney accent, to the annoyance of my friends. There’s surely enough fun here for three kittenhands.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, giving you the ol’ Graham elwood, “‘Ello guv’ner!”