Dom Hemingway

Directed by Richard Shepard
Starring Jude Law and Richard E. Grant
In UK Cinemas November 15th, 2013

by Katharine Fry

Jude Law is back with a double shocker: he’s put on weight and he’s naked! The film opens with our eponymous hero (Law) waxing lyrical about the merits of his cock from beyond while getting head from a fellow inmate. Law is soon paroled – nothing to do with the merits of his cock, mind – and we follow the smooth-talking safebreaker as he seeks out his pleasures: his money, his daughter, with plenty of prostitutes, booze and blow along his way. He is joined in his adventures by the ever sliver-tongued silver fox that is Richard E. Grant who appears as Dickie, a former accomplice and Law’s BFF. If you would like to see an actionish, gangsterish film that can just wash over you with moderate violence and cheeky humour then sit back and enjoy.

It’s when you start to question Dom that it all comes undone. Stylistically it’s a bit all over the shop. Each scene is announced with yellow intertitles that seem to beg a Tarantino affiliation but bear text that is blindingly obvious. Violence is a feature but isn’t quite nasty enough to push DH into that other league of British gangster film. Dom is somewhat of a modern day poet with a vocab that wants to rival the friendlier lothario Russell Brand but I can’t help but think that Law is just hiding his inner posh while his gold teeth eff and blind their way through every scene. My lovely companion did credit the Director, Richard Shepard, for reigning in Law’s usual ticks and grimaces for ‘I’m angry’ and ‘I’m sad’. It was only when she re-enacted the full repertoire that I realised how familiar they are and how well they do to be omitted. Returning to the action, there is one beautiful moment, a car crash scene that becomes a veritable opera of bodies. Otherwise it’s plodding and formulaic filmmaking, no plot twists, no metaphors, no how. The only incongruity in the gangster world is Melody, the hippy dippy American oracle who appears hither and thither to reassure Dom that his self-pity will pass and he will triumph once more. Oh yes, and Dom’s sudden desire to be a good man and reconnect with his long lost daughter, from cartoon to gangster to family man in an easy stride across London.

Feel free, though, to overlook my second paragraph and enjoy 90 minutes of gratuitous, easy fun.

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