Cinema Review: Dom Hemingway | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020  

Dom Hemingway

Studio: Fox Searchlight
Directed by Richard Shepard

Apr 03, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Even by the standards of films with titular characters, Dom Hemingway lives or dies by the audience’s identification with its protagonist. If hearing Jude Law deliver a monologue about the many virtues of his dick is not your idea of a good time, this film may not be for you. That being said, it mostly works.

Law stars as the hedonistic, loud-mouthed Dom Hemingway, a London lowlife on the wrong side of middle-age and fresh off a twelve year prison stint, determined to collect money owed to him by his former superiors and to reconnect with his estranged daughter. The plot plays out as a wry twist on the sort of film Michael Caine would have starred in back in the early 1970’s, but Dom Hemingway is less interested in the world of British gangsters and more interested in its eponymous (anti)hero. Jude Law’s most interesting roles have always played against his dashing, romantic-comedy-ready looks and Dom Hemingway takes this to heart. Paunchy, balding and lopsided, Law skillfully rides the ugly-equals-good-acting line to create a character that is simultaneously repulsive and charming.

The strength of performance and writing that defines the lead is present to varying degrees in the rest of the film.  As Dom’s psychotically vicious, unfailingly polite former employer, Demian Bichir makes a character that could have been a cartoon villain believable and even likable. Other characters only feel like stock props for Dom to interact with, despite the very capable cast, including Richard E. Grant as Dom’s long-suffering best friend and Emilia Clarke as his endlessly disappointed daughter.

But director Richard Shepard smarty diverts attention from the films faults in a variety of ways.  Some of the more implausible plot twists are overcome by the division of the film into neat vignettes—complete with inter-titles—some of which could stand on their own as short films.  And above all, he keeps the viewer firmly grounded in Dom’s head with everything from tight close-ups to a dynamic color palette to a soundtrack that almost makes you believe the character chose the songs himself. The film is a fun ride, assuming you can stand the company.

Author rating: 7/10

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