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'Dom Hemingway' review: Luck is for losers

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Dom Hemingway


"Dom Hemingway" will be released theatrically in Houston starting today (Friday).

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Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is one of the best safe-crackers in the business. He's also egotistical, self-absorbed, a raging alcoholic, and has massive anger issues. After a job goes south, Dom ends up with a 12-year prison sentence and is convinced he is owed the world for keeping his mouth shut and not ratting out Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir), one of France’s biggest crime bosses. Dom begins his first steps of freedom demanding a payment with an unimaginable price tag but soon realizes that there's more to life than money, booze, sex, and cocaine.

The first five minutes of "Dom Hemingway" are devoted to Jude Law going on a narcissistic tangent about how magnificent his genitalia is. The brief moments leading up to Dom's release from prison are stylized unusually; red screen, voice overs, and an image of Dom with a washed out contrast used for the title sequence. Dom's slow-motion strut signifying his status as a free man with dozens of cellmates chanting his name and throwing rolls of toilet paper in celebration informs you that this man has one hell of a story to tell.

The humor in this British black comedy is fairly dark and twisted. Dom tracks down the man who his wife married after he went to prison, confronts him, and beats him within an inch of his life the very first thing after being let out. While Dom is sitting there catching his breath, he recognizes an old friend and catches up with him a bit before threatening the other man's life again. The majority of the comedy comes from Dom's explosive tirades and his inability to use any sort of filter whenever he speaks.

At its core, "Dom Hemingway" is more than a crude film about a corrupt man convinced he's owed this massive debt. Dom missed his daughter's childhood and wants more than anything to be a part of her life again. In her early 20s, Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) is married with a child of her own yet wants nothing from the man who stepped out of her life over a decade ago. Dom meets a woman named Melody (Kerry Condon) along his adventures, who serves as a reminder that lady luck is never too far away from any situation.

Despite Dom showing signs that he might slowly be drifting from the destructive path he finds himself barreling down the arc the character goes through is a sloppy one. Everything seems to rely on whether luck is on your side or not. Over the course of the film Dom realizes that everything comes full circle without him putting any sort of effort into really changing his ways. Everything ends up fixing itself when Dom is at his worst solely because luck is destined to help him out when he needs it the most.

Jude Law gives an extremely passionate performance fueled by explosive fits of rage in "Dom Hemingway." Law is in rare form here and is undeniably mesmerizing as the venom spewing, short fused, alcohol dependent titular character. Vulgar on the surface, "Dom Hemingway" is actually the story of a man short on his luck who desperately wants to reconnect with his daughter. Unfortunately the story finds itself running in circles and nothing feels resolved. "Dom Hemingway" feels like a Guy Ritchie film the English director would never admit to writing or directing.


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