After being released from prison Dom Hemingway (Law), along with his buddy Dickie (E. Grant), head to the south of France to pick up a reward from crime boss Mr. Fontaine (Bichir), whilst also attempting to make up for lost time by reconnecting with his grown up daughter Evelyn (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke).
Opening a film with a lengthy monologue from the central character about the majesty of their manhood is an undeniably bold way to begin a story. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that writer and director Richard Shepard probably thought this was a stroke of Tarantino-esque brilliance when he first thought it up, a brash way to introduce the equally brash titular character to the audience. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. Unlike Tarantino, the writing here lacks the style and sophistication needed to elevate seemingly low-brow and bawdy subject matter into quotable, interesting dialogue.
The central problem with Dom Hemingway is simply how unconvincing it is; the dialogue, characters and situations feel caricatured and half-baked where they should be colourful. Jude Law isn’t bad as Hemingway, commiting to the role effectively with his bulging gut and over-the-top Cockney accent. It’s nice to see him deviate so confidently from the bland handsome characters he has made his name playing, yet it’s easy to feel like his efforts are being squandered in such a sub-par film. The cartoonish nature of his character really grates by the thirty minute mark and the accent is never authentic, eventually feeling almost insulting. The issue here is that we have a film with what should be a secondary character as the primary one; if Hemingway were to pop up in a film centred around a straighter character you’d never have to witness just how inane he really is.
Dom Hemingway isn’t a terrible film, it is engaging enough to warrant its ninety minute run time and the pacing is consistent throughout. It just feels dated, it’s not clever in a way that makes it feel like its sending up the 70’s British crime films it’s clearly inspired by, and it’s not sophisticated enough compared to the relatively recent and far superior Layer Cake. In this post-Lock Stock world of British cinema it’s a shame that lazy filmmaking such as this gets the attention.