Dom Hemingway (2013)



Writer/Director: Richard Shepard

Starring: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Emilia Clarke, Demian Bichir, Madalina Diana Ghenea


“Oh. I’ll tell you who I am. I’m the fucker who’ll tear your nose off with my teeth. I’m the fucker who will gut you with a dull cheese knife and sing Gilbert and Sullivan while I do it. I’m the fucker who’ll dump your dead body in a freezing cold lake and watch you sink to the bottom like so much shit. I am that fucker. That’s the fucker who I am.” Dom Hemingway


A witty comedy drama; DOM HEMINGWAY is an inebriated fraking nihilist prick searching for sexual gratification and financial retribution…things don’t go as planned.

We meet our toxic title character Dom, as he pontificates about the daunting force of his throbbing male arsenal while standing in a prison bathroom. His thick blue collar accent echoing as he’s orally gratified by what we assume is a lady of limited marketable skills.

banner-dom-hemingway-DH_FILMDom is abrasive. Dom is violent. Dom also effortlessly weaves the English language into some kind of sharp tongued Cockney crim’ poetry.  A wordsmith of destructive verbal abuse Dom’s released from the clink after a 12 year stint for exercising his singular talent as a safe cracker. Free, Dom immediately hooks back up with Dickie Black, (Richard E Grant) his one handed, dapper, perpetually intoxicated side kick. Quickly reacquainted the drunken pair set off to claim what Dom is rightfully owed. Namely a small fortune for keeping his yapper shut about crime boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir).

Throw in an estranged daughter and an assortment of illegal, anti-social misadventures, you should be able to tell if Hemingway is your cup of bloody tea.  Snappy and verbose, appreciation of the film comes largely down to the quantity of endorphins released by obnoxious dialogue Funny with a tainted heart the acerbic performances mask the shortcomings of a wandering plot. Not that the script loses its way,  more like, as with most of Writer/Director Richard Shepard’s work there is a tonal shift about halfway through once we have fallen for the lead characters. Shepard did the same thing with Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear in his career highlight THE MATADOR and then again with Richard Gere and Jesse Eisenberg in the under seen THE HUNTING PARTY.

The switch from outcast romp to family drama perhaps a little more pronounced with DOM HEMINGWAY because of the strength of the first act repartee. Once the narrative tries to broaden into a more human story it never quiet balances dramatic weight, crime thrills and character driven laughs. Regardless, the vigorous screenplay remains entertaining and engaging and when it lags the quality cast more than compensate.

Jude Law’s (A.I., CONTAGION, GATTACA) Dom is played as a foul-mouthed blend of Bronson’s physicality (The Tom Hardy kind) combined with the walking thesaurus in Walter Goggins and a double shot of Alfie. The actor again managing to make a less than likeable fellow into a sympathetic scoundrel. Despite all Dom’s bullshit, all the carefully articulated insults and volatile turns of phrase over the course of the film Law reveals hints of compassion and slight emotional growth.

147-Dom-Hemingway-Photo-Nick-WallThe film has an unashamed WITHNAIL & I influence that is impossible to ignore. The presence of Richard E Grant dominating the screen as a welcome and familiar personality, or is that persona? Regardless, he matches Law beat for beat making them one of the tightest comedic duos of the past decade. Bouncing off each other like a loaded Laurel & Hardy as their energies complimenting strengths makes for entertaining viewing.

All the supporting cast maintain the rhythm set by the leads, of note is the dragon Queen from GAME OF THRONES Emilia Clarke as the neglected child of our protagonist.  Demian Bichir (SAVAGES, MACHETE KILLS) as the euro-crook Mr. Fontaine and gangsters mole Madalina Diana Ghenea also make the most of their screentime along with Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.

Shortcomings aside DOM HEMINGWAY is an amusing black comedy that deserves much more attention than it’s receiving. Personally its a comedy I can see myself revisiting regularly and a film worthy of seeking out next time you feel like a rambunctious smile from across the pond.




The cast and Crew talking Dom in Toronto


DOM HEMINGWAY was just released on Blu-Ray, July 22nd 2014 through 20th Century Fox. Buy it HERE

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