Dom Hemingway

Dom Hemingway

2014, R, 93 min. Directed by Richard Shepard. Starring Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Emilia Clarke, Kerry Condon, Madalina Ghenea.

REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., April 18, 2014

Dom Hemingway (Law), in the new film Dom Hemingway, likes to yell repeatedly at the top of his lungs, “I’m Dom fucking Hemingway!” which is odd, because most everyone he encounters in the film already knows he’s Dom Hemingway. Nevertheless, he screams it like a mantra, as if to remind himself of his identity, which makes sense in a movie that doesn’t really have one.

Jude Law, all piss-and-vinegar swagger, embraces this role with such wild abandon, you forget that this is the same actor who quips his way through those Sherlock Holmes capers as Dr. Watson. Dom Hemingway is a character in the tradition of British gangsters caught on film, from Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday, Michael Caine in Get Carter, to Tom Hardy in Bronson. Law delivers a riveting performance in this movie that starts strongly enough, but by the third act is deflated of any tension that may have existed.

The film begins as Dom, an infamous safe-cracker, is released from jail after doing 12 years for not ratting out his Russian mob boss, Mr. Fontaine (Bichir). He hooks up with his old partner in crime, Dickie (Grant, basically riffing on his Withnail & I character), and they hop off to France to pick up the hush money Dom was promised for not snitching. Bacchanalian partying and violent hijinks ensue, and the film’s pacing is rapid and cocksure to match. But just as things get going – cue record scratch! – Dom and Dickie return to England bruised and broke. Dom then decides to simultaneously make amends with his now-grown daughter (Clarke, wasted here in a thankless role) and get back in the safe-cracking game, even though his knowledge of modern safe technology is absolutely nil. The results are so tonally disparate, so frustratingly tidy, and reliant upon such wild coincidence, that it would appear that Shepard (The Matador) just got tired of his character and decided to stop filming.

If there were anything approaching narrative coherence, the film might have rested on Law’s performance alone. As it stands, Dom Hemingway the character is eclipsed by the inability of Dom Hemingway the movie to decide what it wants to be. And that’s too fucking bad.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Richard Shepard Films
The Matador
A curious, postmodern sort of buddy comedy, The Matador is like Death of a Salesman if Willy Loman had been a contract killer.

Marc Savlov, Jan. 27, 2006

The Perfection With Livestream Q&A

July 18, 2024

More by Josh Kupecki
Evil Does Not Exist
A glamping development threatens a small mountain village in Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s follow-up to Drive My Car

May 10, 2024

Io Capitano
Despite strong performances, migrant tale is broadly told

March 15, 2024


Dom Hemingway, Richard Shepard, Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Emilia Clarke, Kerry Condon, Madalina Ghenea

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle