Dom Hemingway Review
I have always been a huge fan of Jude Law. Some like to say that he is an immensely overrated actor, but I disagree. I responded to his work the moment I saw him in “Gattaca,” a movie which is still to this day, my favorite science fiction film. Look at him in “Sherlock Holmes” or “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” or “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” or “Enemy at the Gates” or “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.” Even his lesser talents like “Repo Men” or “Alfie” are better than usual just because of his involvement. When I read that “Dom Hemingway” was a film which centered on Jude Law playing a god-like safecracker, I was all over it.
“Dom Hemingway” has some funny material in it; it also has a style that is quite loose and slick. However, it is a structurally confused movie. As the film begins, and we see Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) boast about his gigantic man-parts, just to suddenly learn that he is in prison and there was an inmate performing a little something-something on him, it a sudden comedic stunt and it works. I thought “Dom Hemingway” would be a stylish comedy about a safecracker who tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter (played by “Game of Thrones’” Emilia Clarke). For pieces of the run-time, I think that is the movie “Dom Hemingway” wants to be, and I feel that when “Dom Hemingway” is in father-daughter mode, it works much better.
But there is an overly-long scene right when Dom is released from prison and he tries to get his payday from his old boss Fontaine (Demian Bichir), Dom kept his mouth shut for twelve years, so why not get the money he was promised? The scene feels like it will be small sequence with a comedic payoff, but it just keeps going and going and GOING until I realized that half the movie was over and we still hadn’t met Dom’s daughter yet. Then closer to the end of the film, Dom tries to get work from a rival’s son (Jumayn Hunter), which the son agrees to if Dom can open his state-of-the-art safe in less than ten minutes. Again, it is an overly-long scene which doesn’t push the story forward in any creative way and just feels like it is wasting a whole lot of time for no reason.
It seems director Richard Shepard only had enough material for a short film, but promised his studio a full-length film. That is the only thing I can think of which could justify the odd choices and weird set-up of “Dom Hemingway.” This is just another film that tries to tell several stories without writing a smart screenplay and never giving any story room to breathe. It is becoming a needless trend and it needs to stop immediately. Sure, there are whispered themes dealing with luck, karma and persistence but they are so cookie-cutter that they never land. Even throughout all of the film’s clever style, there is not a storyline that clicks in a significant way. As a result, “Dom Hemingway” feels like somebody had a few different ideas for a movie and tried to shoot them all at the same time. I don’t need to tell you at this juncture that that type of filmmaking never works out in the end.
Not only is this a confused and incoherent movie, but this is by far my least favorite Jude Law film. I can tell he is trying very hard to make his performance count, but it suffocates through a terribly-written script. Plus, there is something off about Law the entire movie. I understand he is playing a hapless drunk and dirtbag, but it almost seems like he overdoes every character trait. Dialogue is shouted throughout the entire movie, it features glaring double-speak for no reason, and Law is flustered and wide-eyed the entire time. If Law was trying to portray a broken drunkard, I feel like he could do a good job, but under poor writing and poor direction, he’ll never flourish. It is also a shame that Shepard hired people like Clarke and Bichir, then decide to have them hardly show up at all.
This was just an odd movie all across the board, there are not too many movies that make me feel like a blank after I watch them, but that is what this movie is. “Dom Hemingway” is a blank. It is a strange miscalculation of style and talent. I think there is a good movie somewhere in “Dom Hemingway,” but it is never examined and never fleshed out. The worst thing I could say is that if the good in this movie was handled better, I feel I would be weeping right now. Too bad, too bad.
FINAL GRADE: D+