#REVIEW: “DOM HEMINGWAY”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
I first saw Richard Shepherd’s Dom Hemingway last year at TIFF, and thought it was a wildly enjoyable but convoluted romp. The Film tells the tale of Dom (Jude Law), who is released from prison twelve years after a heist-gone-bad. He wants his time back, and he wants to get the money he so rightfully deserves. Of course, the Movie is about much more than that. But after watching it for a second time nearly a year later, I’m not quite sure even Shepherd himself is clear on what that is.
The Trailers for Dom Hemingway have shown and suggested a lot more of the plot than they should. But suffice it to say, the Film starts one way, and around the halfway mark, turns into a completely different Film entirely. These two very different ideas end up getting jammed and held together by this brash and wildly offensive safe-cracking Has-Been. The cohesive glue remains in place throughout, but it feels like the connecting piece between the two halves is not quite there – as if that magical line of dialogue or suggestive scene is missing from the final cut. It does not destroy the Film, but much like Shepherd’s The Matador, it makes for a very incomplete experience.
Which is not to say the Film is bad.
No, Law certainly ensures that his turn as Dom will go down as one of his best performances to date, if not the single best one. He is introduced mere seconds into the Film giving an intense monologue that has to be seen to be believed, and then never lets up. His face is a complete mess, his hair is balding, he is overweight – but he carries himself with an aura of confidence and swagger no matter the circumstance. Law lavishes in the opportunity, delivering an unrelenting and positively demented performance that begs the question: where has he been hiding this ferocity all this time? And while the language gets fairly creative in some areas, it maintains a wicked semblance of what I can only imagine would be the prose of an unhinged Shakespeare on a week-long bender. It is just as hilarious as it is downright offensive, but Law makes sure each line comes off better than the next.
Supporting turns from a miraculously stone-faced Richard E. Grant (Jessa’s drug-addicted older lover from this past season of Girls), Demián Bichir and Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke all help compliment Law’s astonishing work, but all go sadly underused.
Dom Hemingway is very much The Jude Law Show, and rightfully so. This is easily his best performance in years (perhaps ever), and the Film is worthwhile to see for that reason alone. Shepherd keeps the running time at a blisteringly-paced 93-minutes, and it manages to feel even shorter. It will leave you hungry for more, and may even add some new terminology and phrases to your vocabulary.
Fox Searchlight release DOM HEMINGWAY as follows:
April 11, 2014 – Toronto
April 18, 2014 – Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg
April 25, 2014 – Halifax, Kitchener, Ottawa, Québec, Victoria