Jude Law has always been a good actor, but he has never had a really great role until this quirky new film, Dom Hemingway, where he plays a cockney safecracker trying to repair his self-inflicted shattered life while still retaining his cocky swagger.
Written and directed by Richard Shepard, Dom Hemingway is completely original and has some of the best and funniest dialogue I’ve heard in a long time. Dom’s lengthy egotistical pontifications about himself are hilarious and are the meat of this fun little film, which is basically a character study of the outrageous titular criminal.
The film begins as Dom is released from prison, where he has spent the past twelve years keeping his mouth shut (a difficult task) about his involvement with a French crime boss, Mr. Fontaine (Demián Bichir), who has promised to pay him off for his silence.
The “hero” hooks up with his one-handed pal, Dickie (Richard E. Grant), and heads off to the south of France to collect his dough. Unfortunately Dom’s egomania and anger management issues get the better of him and he may not live long enough to ever see his money or reconcile with his estranged daughter.
Dom Hemingway has a fresh, off-the-wall narrative that is rife with bizarre situations that keep you guessing as to what might happen next; and even though Dom is ultra-crude and unsympathetic on the surface, you can’t help but root for the crazy Neanderthal. Richard Shepard deserves kudos for creating such a complex and entertaining character; as does Jude Law for bringing him to life.
Law delivers an Oscar worthy performance as Hemingway, and is nearly unrecognizable behind the mutton-chop beard and the extra thirty pounds of weight he gained for this role. (I wish I could get accolades for weight gain.) Richard E. Grant is also very good as Dickie, and the incredibly beautiful Romanian actress, Madalina Diana Ghenea, is a perfect femme fatale.
British films like this are often hard for American ears (at least mine) to understand, and sometimes it take a little while to become audibly acclimated to the accents. Fortunately, Dom Hemingway does not suffer much from the distracting dialects – in fact the language (as spoken by Dom) is most of the fun.
Dom Hemingway is a very entertaining and different kind of film, with what is sure to be one of the best performances of the year. (Here’s hoping the Academy voters remember Jude Law come award season.) A word of warning though, if a rude man waxing eloquently about his man parts would offend you, then you might want to pass on this one. Grade: 8/10
Photos © 2014 Fox Searchlight Pictures