Dom Hemingway (2013) Film Review

“12 fucking years I kept my mouth shut,” says Jude Law’s brash and noisy Dom Hemingway. It’s hard not to wish he had taken those words to heart. Law’s humourless performance is incessant in its uncouth chatter.

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Dom Hemingway is a 2013 British film about a London ‘geeza’ who has just been released from a twelve-year stint in Her Majesty’s custody. He returns to a London that seems to be carved straight out of a Guy Ritchie movie and unfortunately it lacks any of the pulpy realism. Written and directed by Matador scribe Richard Shepard, and with little of anything even close to substance, Dom Hemingway shouts, vents, and punches with loads of noise but little force.

Old-friend Dicky Black (Richard E Grant) joins Dom Hemingway and together they attempt to get some remuneration for Dom. It seems that Dom’s stay in prison may have some cash in as Dom kept his mouth shut and didn’t dob in criminal heavyweight Mr Fontaine, played by straight faced Demian Bichir. To get the payment Dom and Dicky travel to the South of France. Things don’t go quite to plan and Dom returns to London penniless and with a lack of direction. The introduction of his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke) turns what was a comic-caper into something much closer to sentimentality.

Richard E Grant is given little more than Law to work with. Grant plays an aging, one-handed criminal, and delivers his lines in much the same way as Law: with a heavy emphasis on at least one joke hitting the mark. This isn’t to say that Law and Grant fail as buddy-career criminals, but instead it seems that the fault lies with Richard Shepard. There is nothing original or sparkling in the dialogue or the direction of the film and Law and Grant are left adrift in a sea of aging London clichés.

The soundtrack is just as angry and noisy as Dom himself. It works at points but in general it feels like a throwback to an eighties buddy movie. This scatter shot approach seems to be indicative of the film as a whole. There’s a lot of dialogue and a lot of jokes but only a few really stand out. There’s something in this film that may have worked but it’s hard to tell what that is.

There is nothing to root for in this mostly obnoxious film and the opening arrogant monologue delivered by Dom about his cock serves as a benchmark. The film doesn’t get any better than this scene and the redundancy of the masculinity represented leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Law isn’t usually an actor to deliver a bad performance and in Dom Hemingway he manages to give some depth to Dom’s emptiness. However Richard Shepard’s script is ultimately an unredeemable and derivative piece of writing.

This is an unfortunate film far from its time and the characters bring nothing of note to the lacklustre caricatures they portray. Dom Hemingway isn’t very good and lacks originality. It’s not really worth a watch and you’d probably be better served by revisiting Snatch or Lock Stock.

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