Film Review: Dom Hemingway

There comes a time in every clean, charming actor’s career where the prospect of playing the bad guy is just as exciting as playing the good guy. Jude Law has been an actor who has played the good guy for the last two decades with dignity and compassion; from a sophisticated playboy in Alfie, to a artificially intelligent gigolo in A.I: Artificial Intelligence, to young, lost writers in Closer and the recent The Grand Budapest Hotel, it’s clear that Law’s time to wreck havoc is now. 

Dom Hemingway is Jude Law’s entrance to the world of cinema’s certifiably insane; driven on ego, sexual prowess and the pursuit of criminal icon status, Law’s performance is one performance that will have you believing in the power of filthy transformations on film.

Law embodies Hemingway; a loud, fouled-mouth safecracking vagabond whose rough Shakespearean-esque monologues are fuelled like a man on an eternal sugar rush and coke bender. Law, who put on thirty pounds, reportedly drank ten bottles of coke a day to thicken his midsection and put on an unhealthy amount of weight in a short period of time to portray Hemingway’s peasant-like/rugby player body figure, and does it sure work. Law, who has always been a delicate and fashionably conscious film star, sheds all charm aside and replaces it with rugged goatee, absurdity and crudeness, always pushing the envelope with his words and actions.


Dom Hemingway opens just days before Dom’s released from a long twelve year unknown criminal sentence. Naked and at the pleasure end of a fellow inmate’s fellatio duties, it becomes clear that Dom’s priorities in life are his dignity, his legacy, his cock, his ego and what is due to him at the end of his sentence from his boss Mr. Fountaine, played wonderfully by the constantly underrated Damien Bichir.

Upon his release, Dom settles a few scores, including beating the life out of his decease wide’s second husband Sandy Butterfield (Nick Raggett) for no good reason, chugging down a pint (or ten), sex with hookers, coke and collecting what’s due to him. After three days of partying that results in the most throbbing and painful hangover recorded, Dom and his trusty best friend Dixie Black (Richard E. Grant) visit Mr. Fountaine for Dom’s reward of silence in the south of France. As tempers flare and egos cross revolving around Mr.Fountaine’s newest exotic squeeze Paolina (Madalina Diana Ghenea), Dom gets what he wants from Mr.Fontaine in a mutual agreement. Together with Fountaine, Dom and his company celebrate like any good gangsters, thefts and crooks would do; with a ton of drugs, women and illegal activity. But while Dom and his entourage are enjoying his newly found freedom, another scheme to screw Dom from his twelve year long reward unexpected throws Dom cycle of deep, crappy luck.


Director Richard Shepard (The Matadoris the mastermind behind Dom Hemingway, writing and directing the picture, he captures a diabolical character through his trusted muse and actor Jude Law that is both grotesque yet gains minimal empathy from its audience. Together, the actor and director indulge in a exaggerated and highly unnecessary story of a man’s unhealthy lifestyle, poor choices and an estranged daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) who refuses to acknowledge her father in any way. Essentially, Dom admits to always being a greasy, slimy, peasant level crook who chooses to find a shortcut to success and fortune, even if his skewed brain thinks serving a twelve years sentence pays over hard work and a family. His attempts to assimilate himself in the life of his daughter Evelyn, her husband Hugh (Nathan Stewart-Jarret), and a grandson he never knew he had, becomes the most gut-wrenching moments of the film, substituting theatrical monologues and insanity for tender emotion and human triumph. Sadly, the film only spends minimal amount of time with Dom and his daughter, and more on scenes involving low-level gangster and a heist scene involving Dom humping a safe.

If there is one word that could describe Dom Hemingway as a whole it would be filthy–his attitude is filthy, he antics are outrageous, his execution is uncalled for, yet, surrounded by the deep reds fuelled by anger and a drunken stupor, Dom still manages to always mess up, gaining sympathy from his audience. Tormented and plagued by a series of misfortunes, Dom is his own worst enemy, choosing his image as a notorious safecracker over his family.


There isn’t much to Dom Hemingway as a whole. The basis of the narrative only takes place in a few locations and involves very few characters, but the essence of the film relies on monologues and dialogues usually involving Dom and other characters that hardly drives the narrative, if at all. For the most part, many of the characters seemed force to be included in Dom life’s, serving only a purpose of adding to Dom’s regret of being quiet for those twelve years and adding a certain amount of guilt to our drug-fuelled character.

Dom Hemingway is a dark decent into the intoxicated consciousness of a man played marvellously by Jude Law. Think of Dom Hemingway as the poor man’s, cockney version of Scrocese’s worldwide hit The Wolf of Wall Street. Instead of the bad guys stealing from in right in front of your face, they wait until you fall asleep to rob you.

Dom Hemingway is an unrefined film looking to be guzzled down by a coming onslaught of films relishing the acceptance of bad behaviour and living vicariously through the poor choices of immoral characters. There is only one name and reason you need to make Dom Hemingway a must watch, and that is Jude Law, who smashes and drinks his way into your hearts and minds as one crazy and talented son-of-a-b*tch.

Night Film Reviews: 6 Stars Our of 10.

Is Dom Hemingway Jude Law’s most daring role yet? Or dare you see your British sweetheart in a vivacious and scoundrel role surrounded by filth? Is Dom Hemingway a success, or unlucky S.O.B? Leave all your cockney induced thoughts below. 


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