Friday, April 18, 2014

Dom Hemingway

Review by Pamela Zoslov

It opens with a loud, boastful paean by the title character, a cockney convict played by Jude Law, to his penis, which he praises as, among other things, “a fuckin' work of art, like a Renoir or a Picasso.”

That bold opening suggests a more exciting experience than Richard Shepherd's film, DOM HEMINGWAY, delivers, but it's is still a pretty enjoyable ride. The movie tells a familiar story, that of a long-imprisoned criminal sprung free upon a changed world. The inmate, Dom, is an unlucky safecracker who's been 12 years a convict for keeping his mouth shut about his accomplices in a heist. Newly released from prison, Dom sets out to settle scores and collect the cash and gratitude he feels he's owed.

First order of business: get even with the man who stole his wife. Never mind that Dom's wife divorced him while he was in jail; the bloke she later married receives a hell of a whacking.

“I have anger issues,” Dom confesses, with hilarious understatement, to his soft-spoken sidekick, Dickie (the marvelous Richard E. Grant). Dom celebrates his freedom by binging on cocaine and prostitutes before accepting an invitation to spend a weekend in the country hosted by Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir), the elegant Latin crime boss Dickie protected with his silence.

Dom and Dickie's visit to Fontaine's villa begins with a tense confrontation. Dom means to collect a sizable reward for keeping his mouth shut, and boldly challenges the dangerous Fontaine. To his delight, Dom does get paid, but things quickly explode in chaos in a series of events involving Fontaine's gorgeous, greedy girlfriend (Madalina Diana Ghenea), a reckless car crash, and a stolen stash of cash.

Broke and humbled, Dom tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Evelyn (Emilia Clarke), who wants nothing to do with him, and get safecracking work with Lestor (Jumayn Hunter), an erstwhile crime cohort's son, who also despises him (something to do with what Dom did years ago to Lestor's cherished cat).

With its humorous intertitles (“A Weekend in the Country Amongst Thieves” says one) and odd touches like Dickie's prosthetic hand, the movie aspires to a wicked absurdity that it never fully attains. A late detour into sentiment, as Dom tries to reconcile with Evelyn, isn't entirely comfortable either, though it is rather touching. What does work very well is Jude Law's delightfully zesty performance as the vainglorious, bellicose and ultimately sympathetic Dom Hemingway. 3 1/4 out of 4 stars.

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