Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014 08:44 am est

Crude Jude brings role to life in ‘Dom Hemingway’

Posted on April 2, 2014 | by Zack Grullon

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

As “Dom Hemingway” opens, the titular character stands naked while giving a prolonged monologue about his privates. He is not a particularly likeable man — at first, you want to punch him and about half way into the film, you wish he would leave the screen forever. However, the film eventually manages to win you over with its gleefully wicked charm, courtesy of Jude Law’s hilariously unhinged performance as Dom.

A safecracker by trade, Dom spent 12 years in prison for keeping his boss’ secrets, and now he wants the reward from that employer — Mr. Fontaine (Demián Bichir). Bringing along his partner in crime Dickey (Richard E. Grant), Dom confronts Fontaine for the hush money. But the deal goes awry, and Dom hits rock bottom having lost his money, shelter and dignity.

Unlike other British gangster films that overly indulge in style and excessive violence, writer-director Richard Shepard makes “Dom Hemingway” a comedic character study of an anti-hero at a crossroads with his career and family.

The film consists of a collection of vignettes rather than a straightforward narrative, aided by title cards that introduce each chapter of Dom’s post-prison life. Despite Dom’s predilection for substance abuse and loose women, he has a heart of gold.

The film presents emotional scenes in a cliché way as Dom tries to make peace with his wife’s death and reconnect with his long-lost daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke), yet viewers begrudgingly develop sympathy for his character. A dozen years in prison is a long time, and audiences respect Dom enough that they want to see him succeed.

Karma becomes another anchor for the film when Dom saves a woman after a car crash. She tells him that he will have good luck in the future for his good deed. Though the plot point is a lazy way to move the story along, it still manages to reveal more of Dom’s soft interior, which is often overshadowed by his chubby, chain-smoking exterior.

Although the majority of crude humor in the film is entertaining — particularly the banter between Dom and Dickey — occasionally the dialogue is so vulgar that it distracts from the joke.

The film is very much like its indelicate titular character. At first, it is difficult to enjoy because it spits in the audience’s face with obnoxious attitude. But, over time, viewers will begin to surreptitiously chuckle at the antics until the last shot of the film, after which they will leave sporting the same ear-to-ear grin as Dom himself.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 2 print edition. Zach Grullon is a staff writer. Email him at film@nyunews.com.


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Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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