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Thursday, April 3, 2014


Jude Law as "Dom" in Richard Shepard's DOM HEMINGWAYPhoto courtesy of Fox Searchlight
2014, 93 minutes
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use

Review by Joshua Handler

Crass, foul, outrageous, hilarious, and oddly charming are all descriptors for the eponymous character of Dom Hemingway.  Starting with a profane, sexually-charged opening monologue that sets the tone for the rest of the film, Dom Hemingway will be a love-it-or-hate it experience because it's completely relentless and breaks a key rule of the traditional "hero's journey" (you'll see what I mean).  Jude Law gives one of his best performances as Dom Hemingway, a safe-cracker who went to jail for 12 years for "keeping his mouth shut" and is now out to reclaim what he's due.

Jude Law is in every scene of the movie and lets you know it.  His performance as a man lacking any form of morals is so unique because even though nearly everything the character does is horrible, I still liked watching him and somewhat cared for him.  Even though Dom is cocky and arrogant, Law has a magnetic presence that kept me wanting to watch - I awaited each and every outrageous irreverent outburst.  Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I) gives a dryly funny performance as Dickie, Dom's best friend, and Demian Bichir (Oscar-nominated for A Better Life) also gives a standout performance. Writer/director Richard Shepard's clever dialogue also helps.

Behind every outburst and line of delighfully dirty dialogue, I could hear Shepard high-fiving himself and snickering (in a good way).  When Dom starts to rant or spew insults, there's no stopping him.  Getting him started is like blowing up a dam and watching all of the water pour out.  Needless to say, listening to Law shout these rants is a blast.  However, the profane dialogue and rants are not the only reason that Dom Hemingway's screenplay is so strong.  Shepard's smartest decision was to not conclude the film in the sentimental way that we expect.  Instead he chooses realism, which was a very nice surprise.

Overall, Dom Hemingway is a treat.  It's full of humor, some sharp editing and cinematography, and of course, Jude Law's insane performance at its center.  Polarizing as this film may be, I was entertained start to finish.  It's rare to find a film centered around such an unlikeable (yet still likable) character, but when done as well as it is here, it's a pleasure to watch.


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