Published Apr 10, 2014We all know a Dom Hemingway, a cocky, contrary, self-aggrandizing, foul-mouthed drunken fuckup who somehow possesses enough charm to half pull it off. Your relationship with this person will determine how you'll receive the film Dom Hemingway.
If you like your Dom (at least some of the time), you'll enjoy Jude Law's blistering and brawny performance as the titular safecracker fresh out of prison after 12 years. As such, you will probably like this film for what it is: a series of vignettes wherein Jude Law pals around with Richard E. Grant and chews the scenery like a motherfucker.
If your Dom has pissed on the carpet a few too many times, do not see this film. You will want to murder your Dom. Dom Hemingway's main plot — crook gets out of prison to collect loot he's owed from crime boss he didn't rat on, adventures ensue — doesn't have a lot to it, and that's part of its beauty. It's a soufflé that rises or doesn't based on whether or not you're cheering for this paunchy, profane asshole who occasionally looks like Jude Law and has a penchant for talking tenderly about his cock.
The subplot — crook gets out of prison and seeks to connect with the daughter who grew up while he was inside (Daenerys Targaryen herself, Emilia Clarke) — isn't nearly as good. It feels tacked-on and patronizing because it's tacked-on and patronizing.
As Richard Shepard previously wrote and directed The Matador, an unappreciated gem if ever there was one, Dom Hemingway is ultimately disappointing. There's nothing particularly redeeming about Dom, and yet the script attempts to redeem him anyway.
This is frustrating to watch. Dom is not someone we really sympathize or empathize with, because he's a dick. We cheer for him to escape trouble so we can watch him get into more, but we know, deep down, that he deserves every bad thing that happens to him. Straining to feel something for Dom in the film's third act ruins all the fun we derive from watching him in the first two… which smells curiously like Richard Shepard pissed on your carpet.