Dom Hemingway Reviews
Nate's Grade: A-
Great Film! Really enjoyed it! The lasting impression is the tremendous energy of the script and Jude Law it could really be a stage play in places, it is not often these days that movies create energy through an excellent script, rather than energy by effects, this does. Dom Hemingway avoids squeamish violence in the main and goes for the jugular in its script instead - it even has more than a touch of pathos admid the insanity. All in all, if you like films with some style, real laughs, and energy - and crude craziness - then this fits the bill better than most.
After spending 12 years in prison for keeping his mouth shut, notorious safe-cracker Dom Hemingway is back on the streets of London looking to collect what he's owed.
Since we never get to see it up close, it is hard to say whether Dom is right when he says that his penis deserves a monument on the Washington Mall.(Or the closest equivalent.) What I do know for sure is that everything that happens in "Dom Hemingway" is because of said penis. And as fun as the movie can be, that's pretty much it, as it is so improbable at times that it is on the verge of magic realism, ending on a rather abrupt note. Admittedly, Jude Law is quite good in an unselfconscious performance that has less to do with the paunch and male pattern baldness than with him playing a grandfather. But we've seen better. That leaves it for Richard E. Grant to steal the movie out from under him just with his greatly bemused reactions.
While not quite as predictable as I feared, this film is pretty formulaic as a black-crime comedy about an ex-con seeking resolution for what he feels is due to him as a criminal, and it is made all the more conventional by boasting a very British style of storytelling, complete with overstylization. A somewhat toned down, yet nonetheless notable continuation of the Danny Boyle-inspired movement of hyper-stylization in British cinema, this film has a tendency to get a little carried away with its flashy editing and frantic pacing, which bloat style, often at the expense of substance which is lacking enough in concept. This is ultimately a rather inconsequential story concept that is entertaining, but not exactly rich, being light in magnitude, no matter how much it can get carried away as rather improbable. Of course, the grimy characterization gets carried away as much as anything in this black comedy, because even though the characters are memorably colorful and charismatically portrayed, it's hard to get invested in them, as they're all such dirtbags, including, if not especially the titular lead (He reportedly killed a cat, so he loses a ton of points from me for that). At the very least, the likability of the characters and, for that matter, the entertainment value of the film are shaken by sheer obnoxiousness, deriving from the humor's often being characterized by a noisy onslaught of obscenities which dilute the tastefulness of a wit whose constant frantic snap also wears you down, to the point of feel low-brow. More often than not, the film is a lot of fun with its fusion of wit and grime as a comedy, but all too often, it's kind of annoying, distancing you from a formulaic narrative with problematic characters and a questionable degree of weight. The film is almost forgettable, but even though it's rather underwhelming, for what it is, it sticks with you through all of its effective tastes, even in music.
The film isn't especially musical, but when music does come into play, it doesn't do much with Rolfe Kent's decent score, being primarily celebratory of an outstanding unoriginal soundtrack which features anything from good, old-fashioned, no-nonsense British rock, to the occasional nifty classical piece, and does a lot to liven up the aesthetic value of this film, further complimented by consistently handsome and sometimes surprisingly gorgeous cinematography by Giles Nuttgens. Visual style stands solid in this film, but the stylistic sharpness within the directorial efforts of Richard Shepard do not end there, for although the film is very often overstylized with its frantic flashiness, when Shepard's orchestration of the sound mixing, scene structuring and editing - supervised by Dana Congdon - snaps, the film crackles. Again, Shepard will reach obnoxious extremes, but he never ever hits bland lows, keeping entertainment value consistent, very often to the point of making sure that the film is a whole lot of fun, largely thanks to his stylish direction, and just as largely thanks to his snappy writing. Shepard's script succumbs to a number of conventions when it comes to modern British comedy, and among those tropes is a messiness to the juggling of exhausting wit and obnoxious, often simply uncalled-for low-brow touches, but when realization to Shepard's colorful writing is found, man, it's just about sparkling, with memorable characterization and heights in humor which range from charming to all-out hilarious. Intensely snappy and audacious, this film challenges your patience and tolerance, and if you're able to take it for what it is, while you should hardly expect anything outstanding, you're sure to enjoy yourself, as it is so much fun and so charm in so many ways, yet wouldn't be that to this extent if it wasn't for such a fittingly charming cast. As expected, if nothing else stands out in this film, it's a cast full of memorably charismatic performances of which, the most memorable of which being by Jumayn Hunter, Demián Bichir, Richard E. Grant and, of course, leading man Jude Law, who is so deeply transformative in his sparklingly charismatic and, in some ways, nuanced portrayal of a brutal and self-indulgent criminal who is hardly predictable - particularly when he finds a heart - that he proves to be rather outstanding, molding a lead who endears through all of his flaws as memorable and sometimes even sympathetic. Law is a little bit held back by his being handed little actual dramatic material, but he does firmly remind us of his under-explored talents and carries this film a long way, maybe not to where the final product can transcend its shortcomings and even border on rewarding, but certainly to where the patient are sure to be thoroughly entertained.
Bottom line, the film falls into formula and overstylization almost as obnoxious as unlikable character aspects and an exhaustingly frantic, often low-brow sense of humor, all behind a story of little depth to begin with, thus, this effort cannot transcend underwhelmingness, but on the backs of an excellent soundtrack, lovely cinematography, entertainingly stylish direction, colorful and often riotous writing, and across-the-board glowingly charming performances, - the most endearing of which being by Jude Law - "Dom Hemingway" stands as an inconsequential, but fun black comedy.
2.5/5 - Fair
The story of an old school safecracker Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) who, after spending 12 years in prison for refusing to rat out his boss Ivan Fontaine (Demián Bichir), is released and seeks payment, was refreshingly different. He reunites with his best friend Dickie (Richard E. Grant) and they travel to Fontaine's villa in the French countryside. Dom flirts with Fontaine's Romanian girlfriend Paolina (M?d?lina Diana Ghenea) and becomes angry that he spent 12 years in jail for Fontaine. He begins to mock Fontaine and storms out. At dinner, he apologises and Fontaine presents Dom with £750,000... Is Dom now rich? Well... not really!
Fast paced story has its faults but is still keeping the audience interested until the end, mainly due to the hero's Dom Hemingway's misfortune which follows it until almost the end... Funny at moments, and raw around the edges most of the time... but never boring!
For most of the film, you're just along for the ride. Shepard gets you accustomed to the character of Hemingway pretty early on, so all of the wacky antics he gets into are just icing on the cake. Because what you care about most is watching Hemingway live his life. What surprised me here was not how much I enjoyed the off-the-wall kind of humor, but how touching this film really was. Shepard has a deft hand when it comes to dealing with the interpersonal relationships Hemingway has. He and Law portray Hemingway as a man who can't really help himself. He may want to change, but he doesn't really have the tools to do it. This makes the protagonist so sympathetic to the audience, that it's hard not to love him.
There are some obvious flaws with the film. The obscenities in the film might make it somewhat inaccessible to viewers. Also, most of the plot of the film is meaningless. It's practically a string of, rather, unconnected events that lead to a conclusion, that doesn't have much to do with the set up. I can understand how this can be frustrating, and it would have probably been an even better film if Shepard had given the script one more draft.
However, it didn't really ruin the film for me. Law was my anchor to the story, because I found Hemingway to be so intriguing and, somewhat, charismatic. Your enjoyment of this film will really hinge on what you think of Hemingway, but if you're like me, you might find yourself having a lot more fun with this than you thought you would.