If you can survive the language, you might enjoy this brash character study
It’s rare to know within the first five minutes whether you’ll enjoy a movie. With Dom Hemingway, you do. Dom’s (Jude Law: The Grand Budapest Hotel) opening five-minute monologue on the legendary status of his genitalia is a crude, rambling moment of bravado for the character and the film, literally letting it all hang out.
For some, it’s the cue to run. For others, it’s an indicator that Dom Hemingway is a character study bold enough to make its characters unlikeable or ridiculous.
Now that I’ve warned you what lies ahead, let’s examine the plot.
Dom is a safe cracker, paroled after 12 years of hard time. He could have made a deal for less time by testifying against his co-conspirators, but he is a criminal of principles. To reward his silence, Dom’s former boss, Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir: The Bridge) has agreed to pay a hefty sum.
Dom’s first act as a free man is to beat the snot out of the man who married his ex-wife. Why? Because he’s Dom expletive Hemingway, that’s why!
Dom and best pal Dickie (Richard E. Grant: Girls) head to Mr. Fontaine’s French villa for a big pay day and a weekend of debauchery. A punishing night of sex, drugs and poor decision-making, leaves Dom penniless.
He sobers up to three choices: Return to London in hopes of joining another criminal syndicate; repair his fragmented relationship with his daughter; track down the dirty thief who took his money.
Can Dom get out of his own way to make a sound decision? No, but it’s fun to watch him try.
Dom Hemingway is stronger on nudity, imaginative cursing and drugs than on plotting. The plot is the bare sketch of a story, and your involvement with the character minimal. Writer/director Richard Shepard (Girls) is interested in Dom, and he builds his film around absurd situations that invite Dom’s reactive bombast. Stylish editing tricks keep the movie rushing along.
Law turns in a dazzling performance as an unlikeable crook at the end of his rope. His Dom is a verbose, ferocious loser sustained only by his delusions of grandeur. His unearned confidence would be hilarious if it wasn’t so pathetic. From his chest-puffed swagger to his frantic eyes, Dom is a man desperate to believe the lies he tells about himself. It’s a performance that will likely be overlooked for awards — hard to find a clip of curse-free dialog for the ceremonies — but should be seen.
Dom Hemingway isn’t a movie for the casual filmgoer; don’t make your hapless critic’s mistake of taking your mother.