Jude Law is continuing to make his mark as one of the more impressive actors working today. Since the start of his career, Law has been someone to watch, able to bring his British charm and energy to comedies, while also adding some serious gravitas to more dramatic roles. From being the amusing Gigolo Joe in A.I. Artificial Intelligence
to journeying for his lover in the civil war drama Cold Mountain, Law has seemingly done it all. Yet, like a lot of great actors, Law has sadly yet to be awarded with a deserved Academy Award, while Cuba Gooding Jr. is soaking it up in the sun with his Oscar while on set for the latest Daddy Day Camp movie, probably. Like a great actor, though, Law is continuing to reinvent himself, this time taking on the role of perhaps his most eccentric character yet.
That is Dom Hemingway, the titular character of the film. Going absolutely batshit crazy a la Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street and James McAvoy in Filth, Law really reaches new heights that we have never seen before, giving one of his bravest performances yet. This fact carries this largely uneven film to being a pleasant watch throughout.
Dom Hemingway follows Dom Hemingway (shocker), who has just got out of a twelve year stint in prison. Now out of prison, he looks to get what he is owed, along with reconnecting his relationship with his daughter.
As I’ve mentioned, Jude Law is just a great talent, an actor who always stretches himself. Here Law brings a great bravado as Dom Hemingway, this extremely arrogant and vulgar man. Law owns this persona and has a blast playing it throughout, as he throws out each swear with a smile on his face. Perhaps the best part of Law’s performance is the fact that he is able to make this character extremely mean-spirited, but also one it’s easy to get behind. It’s a tough line to ride with a character like this, but Law really thrives.
Playing off Law is really underrated British character actor Richard Grant, and he does a great job. Both Law and Grant have a great chemistry together, as their bickering throughout their crazy antics in the film is always quite amusing. Other supporting actors like Demian Bichir, Emilia Clarke, and Kerry Condon all do a respectable job with their small parts. At the end of the day, though, this is Law’s film and he owns it from start to finish.
Directing and writing the film is Richard Shepard, who really nails the glitzy and glamorous parts of both fields. Shepard’s direction is full of style and energy. Like the protagonist on drugs (which he often is), Shepard presents the audience with a lighting-fast pace and just a lot of great pieces. It’s much better for a director to really go for it when it comes to style rather than play it safe, and Shepard largely succeeds with this gamble.
Shepard’s script has a sharp wit to it. Even with these actors’ great chemistry, the dialogue really has to be good for the actors to have any material to play off of, and thankfully that is the case here. This film surprised me with a lot of great laughs, mostly coming from the chemistry of Law and Grant. There is also a nice mixture between this wit and even some raunchy moments, like Dom Hemingway dry humping a safe to open it.
Both Shepard’s efforts in writing and directing thrive in the glossy aspects, but there are some serious issues when it comes to the concrete concepts of both positions. The script especially suffers aside from its cutting dialogue, really failing to build up great characters. Every character in the film, even Dom Hemingway to some extent, feels very one-note, seriously lacking in any depth to either explain why they are like this, or show a slightly different side of the character. It makes a lot of these characters seem more like cartoons than real people.
Shepard’s script also lacks a very good story. The script for the most part goes through a lot of different tropes and cliches, like the vulgar protagonist trying to reconnect with his lost family and other kind of played out storylines. With such an out of the box character, you would think that would be all the more opportunity for Shepard to really run wild. Instead, he mostly just plays it safe, with no story elements that feel very new or fresh.
As far as directing goes, Shepard’s effort is largely an unfocused one. There are a few different aspects he could really have tackled here; making the film about Dom reconnecting with his family, or about Dom going back to his gang ties like for most of his hijinks. The film ultimately tries to tackles both of these ideas, and really leads to neither being very well done. If Shepard chose one, the audience really could have gotten a taste of something with a lot of heart, or something more in the vein of The Wolf of Wall Street.
A more minor complaint; I was not a big fan of the film’s ending. Instead of ending with a sort of final connection, the film in general just kind of ends with a minor event. It feels like that final connection was really missing, because it seemed like the film needed that to really wrap everything together in a nice bow.
There is a significant lack of focus here, along with a serious lack of depth that plagues Dom Hemingway in a big way. Still, Jude Law’s raw bravado with his performance is stellar, as him and Richard Grant are a dynamite pair. Richard Shepard’s direction here presents a great style, and his script bawdy laughs. It’s not as good as it could have been, but amusing throughout.
Take a Drink: anytime a character takes one
Take a Drink: anytime a character does drugs
Take a Drink: whenever Law does something crazy
Do a Shot: during the awkward intro scene