Dom Hemingway (2013) is a film about a foul mouthed, violent, cocky, safe cracker whose number one priority is money. While Dom is a man that many of us would stay far away from, he has a charm and loyalty that might encourage us to keep listening if he sat next to us in a pub. It is this character that creates the film. I wanted to watch Dom, with almost morbid curiosity, to discover what he would do or say next.
The film focus’ on Dom Hemingway, who has spent 12 years in prison for keeping his mouth shut. He is finally let out and wants nothing more than the money he is owed. When things stop going according to plan Dom is forced to turn to his daughter for help and attempts to rekindle the relationship between them.
While the constant quest for money drives the pacing and interest of the film, it is the sub-plot and characters that drag it down. The film has a good cast with Dom being played by Jude Law and his sidekick, Dickie, being Richard E. Grant, but side-characters serve merely to react to Dom. Since all of the interesting development has been given to the protagonist, all that is left for the rest is a fake hand and a love of beautiful women.
Likewise the sub-plot is successful at giving Dom more depth, adding layers of loyalty and care to his colourful character, but they feel overly cliche. The ‘a strong man ultimately feels sorry for mucking everything up and just wants to get on with his family’ trope is used constantly and feels unimaginative after some of the more flavorful scenes that came before it. Having said this, perhaps Richard Shepard was aiming for normality in the character as something for the audience to attach themselves to. Had it not happened I would have felt little to no connection or concern for Dom and his future endeavors.
The best way to describe Dom’s character is to explain that he begun as a long monologue, by Shepard, about a man talking about his cock. Indeed the audience is treated to over two minutes of this speech as the opening of the film. “I think it’s a fucking work of art. Like a Renoir or a Picasso. the painting of my cock should hang in the Louvre. They should study my cock in art classes, spend whole courses studying the splendid contours of its exquisiteness” In most instances if a film started this way I would believe myself to have not read the description of the film correctly and walk away from it, however both the dialogue and Jude Law’s presentation of the character intrigued me. Dom is a man who is often both vulgar and violent but he will reference art, and his speech is full of juicy flavor. It was this expression that kept me watching the film. I was enjoying the performance and delivery of the dialogue and therefore wanted to know how this character was going to get into more trouble, and then out of it.
I enjoyed watching Dom Hemingway despite it not being my type of film, there are plenty of on-edge moments and linguistical humour that kept me entertained. If it was not for the main character I do not think I would have sat through the film. This means therefore that if you think the sound of Dom Hemingway is too vulgar and distasteful, this is not the film for you. On the other hand if you enjoy, or can see past, the risky qualities then you will appreciate the character creation as a viewer, writer, actor and/or director. If you’re happy for a film about a criminal to be more about the man than the action, then Dom Hemingway is for you.
Directed and Written by: Richard Shepard
Staring: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant and Demian Bichir