A naked Jude Law delivering a poetic cockney barrage of all the reasons why his penis should be likened to Monet’s brush or Mozart’s wand is the striking and hilarious scene that opens Dom Hemingway and sets the tone for this odd black comedy.
From the producer of Sexy Beast, writer/director Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemingway is the story of the titular 90s ex-con (Law) and former safe cracker being released from prison after twelve years into the modern world. The first order of business is travelling to his dues from European cocaine kingpin Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir) with his old pal Dickie Black (Richard E. Grant).
Dom Hemingway is an ego trip. It’s getting whipped into the frenzy of an out of time gangster in a contemporary setting that’s past his kind of shtick. Integrating this verbose beast into society after being caged is lots of fun to watch. Law absolutely relishes the opportunity to strip away any semblance of his former ‘sex symbol’ status to embody this ape of a man. His chest beating, hard drinking, fourth wall breaking, libidinous freak needs to make up for lost time. But it’s not only the wild that he has to tangle with, it’s the stark reality that he’s part of an endangered species of criminal and the world that he’s returning to looks at what he represents with distain, especially the daughter that he left behind. Balancing these two poles of the character really shows what maturity has done for Law’s gravitas and versatility. Grant’s sidekick is just wonderfully deft will straight faced comedy. There aren’t many performers who could petulantly stomp around a horrific car wreck complaining about losing their prosthetic hand and have you in stitches. He’s also adapted to keeping his mouth shut to ensure longevity in the crime world.
Shepard presents Don as Don sees himself. This ideal projection features long, languid shots with him staring down the lens, holding court with the viewers. But he’s also happy to bring the character back to earth by letting us peek behind the façade; the ugly truth of trying to make up for twelve years of partying in one night or marching through an orchid naked after losing his temper. Shepard loves to contrast the tones of the film according to perception and (harsh) reality. Just as you’re quite happy settling into Don’s subjective perspective, warts and all, you have the rug pulled out from beneath you forcing Don back to the cruel world of long time ex-cons. Don must make the big existential decisions on what he wants out of life and what’s most important. Shepard delivers these epiphanies in the form of characters such as Melody (Kerry Condon) to bring him back to morality.
Dom Hemingway is nostalgic about cockney gangster masculinity but is acutely aware that it’s obsolete.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Richard Shepard
Written by: Richard Shepard
Starring: Jude Law, Nick Raggett, Simeon Moore, Richard E. Grant, Madalina Diana Ghenea, Demian Bichir, Kerry Condon, Emilia Clarke, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Jordan A. Nash, Jumayn Hunter,