Where else can you hear Jude Law exuberantly exclaiming a poem about the splendor and majesty of his own sex organ? Nowhere. And that is why Dom Hemingway is really something. I don’t think I have seen Jude Law give a better performance. If you ask me, he’s certainly Oscar worthy. And I’m sticking to that. The movie itself? Not so much. But it’s still pretty good.
Jude Law is Dom Hemingway, a safecracker just released from a 12 year prison sentence. Now he’s on a series of missions, the main and central one being confronting his boss (Demian Bichir) to receive the money owed to him. He spent 12 years in prison for the guy and didn’t once rat him out, so now he wants his share. After he gets his money, things happen that I won’t spoil. But they involve him losing his money (poor guy) and eventually meeting up with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke, dragons and blonde-locks sold separately), who now has a child. Dom wants to make things right with her, but at the same time he just wants his freaking money back. It’s a tough life he lives. Simultaneously, Dom and his best friend (Richard E. Grant, offering some terrific supporting work) go through London looking for it, running into all kinds of scenarios along the way.
And let’s not forget Hemingway’s mouth, which is a consistently running motor of vulgarity, spewing an unending amount of comedic gold. I mean what I said. Jude Law is Oscar worthy. I have always been a fan of Jude Law. Movies like A Series of Unfortunate Events and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (both of which are very underrated and never talked about anymore), as well as both Sherlock Holmes movies, Hugo, Contagion, and Side Effects stand out to me as notable works of his recently. From the opening monologue giving glory to his penis to his bashing a guy’s head in for messing with his now divorced wife while in prison, Dom Hemingway is a character that is a bad guy through and through, but Jude Law plays him with such hilarious ferocity. It’s crazy to say with this being as dark a film as it is, but thanks to his performance, Dom Hemingway really is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen this year. And no that isn’t the movie itself. Take Jude Law out of the equation and it would have nothing. But thankfully he’s there and it’s pure magic. As his best and only friend, Richard E. Grant is terrific even if a bit underused. I really enjoyed watching him on screen as he is always there to react to Hemingway’s ballistic behavior exactly as we the audience would. I especially loved him in a scene where Dom must find a way to open a safe inside the home of a long time acquaintance. It’s a great scene involving great acting from both parties. Emilia Clark (Khaleesi herself, desperately lacking her dragons) offers nothing to this movie. And please don’t misunderstand me. I love Game of Thrones (read my review for Season 4 right here), and since the beginning of the show Daenerys has been one of my top favorite characters. In the series, Clarke proves herself to be a remarkable actress and although her decision to stop doing nude scenes may have upset some, it really does attest to the fact that she is more focused on her acting career than anything else. But in this movie, she is given nothing. Her character felt so shoehorned into the plot to give it an emotional core, and it didn’t work. Nothing against her, just the way her character was written.
The writing is actually the biggest problem the movie has. At once, the writing is a bit jumbled and sometimes the story goes into territory that feels a bit overly zealous and out of its own range. You don’t learn a lot about the character of Dom Hemingway but by the end you know enough. I really, really liked the first half of this movie and while the second half was a bit of a step down, I still liked it by the time the end rolled around. A lot of the movie is forgettable thanks to the script, while at the same time some of the lines that come out of the mouth of Dom Hemingway are genuinely quotable. That, in addition to the career best performance from Jude Law, is also thanks to the script. Sometimes it’s bumpy, other times it’s sharp. It’s a mixed bag, but it has more good in it than bad.
Dom Hemingway (2014) 93 mins. Rated R for sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence, and drug use Cast: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Emilia Clarke Writer: Richard Shepard Director: Richard Shepard