Friday, June 26, 2015

Movie Review - Dom Hemingway

Dom Hemingway (2014)
Starring Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, and Emilia Clarke
Directed by Richard Shepard

Filled with cleverly snappy dialog, an oddly retro aesthetic, and a titular protagonist who's a bitterly nasty guy whom we can't help but think a bit fondly of despite his many deviant issues, director and screenwriter Richard Shepard's Dom Hemingway is a film that works about half the time, but unfortunately falters a bit when it attempts to give its otherwise crude lead character a bit of a heart of gold as the film progresses.

From the opening scene, we glimpse what kind of film we're getting into and while I don't want to spoil the hilarity of the sheer audacity of the moment, we really do immediately key in to the movie's pulpy usage of dialog and visuals to evoke humor.  In that scene (and the ones immediately following it), we discover that Dom Hemingway has been in jail for twelve years after having committed a crime and refusing to name the crime boss who tasked him with the job.  Upon his release, he meets up with his best friend (Richard E. Grant) to head to France to meet up with Ivan Fontaine (Demian Bichir), the man employing Dom when he was captured.  The ballsy, hold-no-punches guy that he is, the recently freed Dom demands that Ivan -- an incredibly wealthy, smooth-talking mafioso type -- give him a substantial payday.

Rather than spoil things, I'll leave the summary at that except to say that at about halfway through the film, Dom Hemingway begins to disappoint a bit.  Rather than continue on the comedically vulgar track, the second half of the flick attempts to reform Dom as he tries to reconcile with his adult daughter (Emilia Clarke) and her grandson.  I can understand how some films feel the need to make their nasty protagonist seem at least a bit rehabilitated as they progress and "grow," but Shepard did such a good job of creating a sleazy guy the audience can root for in Dom that this amelioration of his character is unnecessary and actually harms the film more than it does it good.  Granted, Dom never completely glistens with an angelic glow, but the whole last half struck me as a bit disingenuous for the character we had seen come before.

2014 was a surprisingly fantastic year for actors (as my RyMickey Awards will show) and in a lesser year, Jude Law would undoubtedly rank in my Top Five Actors for his brash, ballsy, and positively delightful portrayal as the title character.  While I'm not quite sure he'll make it there this year, his performance alone makes Dom Hemingway worth watching even if the film itself is hampered by a misguided attempt at creating a tiny bit of morality in the end.

The RyMickey Rating: B-

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