Dom Hemingway (G)

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Review byMatthew Turner15/11/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Raucously entertaining, blackly comic thriller with an enjoyably sweary script, striking production design, a career-best performance from Jude Law and superb support from Richard E Grant, though it's slightly let down by a final act gear crunch into sentimentality.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Richard Shepard (The Matador, TV's Girls), Dom Hemingway opens with paunchy safe-cracker Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) half-naked and delivering an extravagant monologue about his penis before the camera eventually reveals that a) he's in prison and b) he's being (ahem) serviced by a fellow prisoner. After that, Dom's 12 year stretch comes to an end and he's released from prison, whereupon he immediately hospitalises the bus driver who married his wife after she divorced him.

Dom then heads back to what used to be his local, hooks up with his best friend Dickie (Richard E Grant) and persuades him to accompany him to the South of France, in order to collect what he's owed from the man he served time for, crime boss Ivan (Demian Bichir). However, nothing goes quite according to plan and Dom is soon back in London, hustling for a job from young gangster Lestor (Jumayn Hunter) and attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke).

The Good
Jude Law delivers perhaps his best lead performance as Dom, relishing every word of his wonderfully fruity dialogue and throwing himself head-first into the physicality of the role, beer belly, receding hair-line and all. He also has terrific chemistry with Richard E Grant, who, in turn, gets one of his best roles in several years and seizes it with both hands – his reaction shots alone are priceless.

The posters for the film carry the quote 'Withnail and I meets Sexy Beast!” and while that's not entirely accurate in terms of plot, you can at least see strong elements of both films (Grant's performance, the bickering interaction, cockney gangsters, striking colour design, the extremely sweary script) throughout Shepard's film and the director acknowledges both as significant influences. The Pinter-esque dialogue is a delight in itself and the screenplay is packed with quotable lines and laugh-out-loud moments.

The Great
In addition, Shepard orchestrates a number of superbly entertaining sequences, most notably Dom demonstrating how to crack a safe while under threat of castration or Dom drunkenly mouthing off to Ivan (with a horrified Dickie in the background) about how he wants what he's owed ... and a present.

The only real problem is that the film takes a final act nose-dive into sentimentality that doesn't quite sit with the gleeful raucousness of what's gone before, though that's a minor quibble that shouldn’t detract overall.

Worth seeing?
Dom Hemingway is a hugely entertaining black comedy thriller with a sharply witty script, engaging characters and a terrific central performance from Jude Law. Recommended.

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Content updated: 20/07/2019 21:06

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