I’m always a fan of British films and I love having a fantastic Brit leading the way. It’s hard not to like the accents and the unique styles of life that these certain characters inhibit. The Brits also have a great sense of humor that goes well with their different (and similar) curse words. The mean streets of London are always great for exploring and when a director has faith in his film and his actors, you’re in for an awesome time. Who doesn’t love tons of violence and swearing?
After spending twelve years locked up in prison, Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is finally released back into the English streets and he’s got a lot of making up to do. Rather than cautiously entering this unfamiliar world with new technology, Dom returns to his old habits and begins to remake a name for himself. Of course, that can’t be done without kicking a few people’s asses, ingesting copious amounts of drugs, and shouting at every person he locks eyes with. After Dom reunites with his old friend, Dickie Black (Richard E. Grant), he’s invited to the estate of the drug lord for whom he remained silent for all those years in prison. All he has to do to collect his money is remain on his best behavior. Right, like that’s going to happen.
Enter Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir), ruthless drug-lord who also maintains a lot of power. Dom is less-than-happy with his reward and makes Mr. Fontaine known of this, explicitly telling him that he wants to have sex with his model girlfriend (Madalina Diana Ghenea). Of course that doesn’t sit well with Mr. Fontaine, but things go even further South when Dom’s money is stolen and Dom isn’t going down without a fight. He will scour the streets of London for his money, despite Dickie’s more sound advice. During the search, he’ll come face-to-face with his now-adult daughter (Emilia Clarke) and the son of one of his old enemies (Jumayn Hunter). Dom just can’t catch a break, but he’s willing to do anything and everything to make things the way they should be.
Dom Hemingway has got to be one of the most eccentric films I’ve ever seen and it has a masterclass performance to take it to even greater heights. There’s always something new and exciting happening in this film and that aspect never lets up. The fact that this film takes place in sort-of an English underground is telling of its subject matter and in some ways, this film feels like a companion to Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Bronson. Both have tremendous lead actors willing to do whatever in their respective roles and the performances really help their ludicrous stories. After seeing this film, I’m never going to view Jude Law the same.
Jude Law has simply never been better than he is in Dom Hemingway. His level of dedication to his character is bewildering and he never, ever waivers. He’s spouting off ridiculous, poetic monologues and never second-guesses what he’s saying. Law play’s Hemingway with such ferocity and emotion that you can’t help but cheer for him, even when he’s doing some pretty awful things. He’s the anti-hero of all anti-heroes and Law is freaking brilliant. The role demands for a lot of yelling and a lot of profanity and Law executes both perfectly. He’s never shy to shed his layers, nor does he ever back off when verbally berating his enemies. It’s such a fun and funny role that Law obviously has a great time playing. I laughed my ass off whenever Law did anything and this performance will standout as his best.
Though this film is mostly Jude Law’s, he has a lot of strong support Grant, who has the task of keeping him in check. Grant’s flamboyant nature parallels Law’s over-masculinity and the two have an electric sort of chemistry. Grant is often making snide remarks that will evoke a lot of laughter, while also offering up some food for thought. Offering up a more serious and frightening presence, is Bichir, who does his job wonderfully. Whereas Law is shouting and jumping around to frighten his enemies, Bichir is quiet and intimidating. Whether he’s speaking slowly to build tension, or telling Law what exactly he’d do to him, Bichir makes his presence known and he’s sure to terrify both Law and the audience.
Writer/Director Richard Shepard has a flare for crazy with this film. Not only does the violence look top-notch, but his style of direction also compliments the film’s story really well. Law has many monolouges within the film and when he’s talking, all focus is on him. Facial expressions and the eyes are where your focus is drawn and it gives you a better sense of character. The film’s dialouge is as poetic as it is disturbing and the two manage to mix well together. The opening scene in the film is a Shakespearean description of Law’s junk that Law presents with an outstanding amount of charisma. That intro sets the mood for this bizarre and twisted film and Sherpard’s writing and direction never let up.
For the most part, this film’s zany story makes sense and keeps its adrenaline pace up until the third act. The characters are easy to enjoy and it’s a lot of fun seeing Dom try to make up for all his lost time. He’s out of touch with technology and the world and seeing him stumble and get frustrated is a joyous thing. He also humps a safe at one point to try to get it open (random little tidbit, but this film is pretty random too). The film slows down in the third act, when Dom tries to make amends with his daughter. Law never lets up on his character, but the mood shifts and the film is affected because of it. It’s not the end of the world, but I feel like the film would have benefited more if they hadn’t tried to humanize Dom in the end.
Dom Hemingway is not going to be for everyone and I can guarantee that. It’s abuse of cursing and violence is enough to send most people the opposite direction and the artsy feel of the film may dissuade some people as well. If you’re not easily offended and can embrace less conventional styles of film-making, you’re gonna have a lot of fun with this film. Jude Law is worth the price of admission and you’ll leave feeling pretty satisfied with what you saw.
Dom Hemingway Trailer