Dom Hemingway is a movie that I feel like I should like. It’s an incredibly stylized couple of days in the life of a supreme asshole, a Mr. Dom Hemingway, played by Jude Law, a damn fine actor. I had a very good feeling when the film opened up to Dom giving a long and in-depth monologue about the world’s greatest piece of artwork: his cock (which incidentally was in someone’s mouth.) But after a while, the film kinda fell apart. I eventually realized that the film loudly proclaims itself to be a big bloody deal, but much like its protagonist, doesn’t amount to much in the end. Dom Hemingway is the very definition of style over substance, but unfortunately its style isn’t original enough to make up for its failings.
Dom Hemingway is a felon convicted of safe-cracking who just spent a twelve-year stint in prison. He gets out to make his way through adventures with the mob boss he went to prison for, his estranged daughter, and a former rival who wants to cut off his dick. Most of these scenes are entertaining, and many are decently funny, thanks to a stellar performance by Jude Law. Dom Hemingway is a man with an anger problem, yet ultimately is a victim to his own good nature and his belief that there’s a karmic order to the universe. He’s a man who thinks himself the greatest man alive for taking the shit life has given him, but when he comes calling on the universe to pay its due, the universe is just as ignorant to his pleas as it is to the rest of us. Watching Jude Law bring us through Dom’s jubilation at seeming turns of fortune, only to have the rug repeatedly pulled out from under him is a dear joy to watch.
However, as entertaining as the scenes can be, they don’t really assemble into anything coherent. Most of the movie is just Dom fumbling about, working his way from one stupid situation of his own making to another. But when it comes time for Dom’s character arc to come to a close and he must face his own misconceptions about reality, the film doesn’t quite deliver. Instead, there’s a half-assed emotional reunion with his daughter and a petty revenge against someone who wronged him earlier in the film. And that’s it. Movie over. And so I feel unfulfilled. The film lacks a cohesive narrative arc, and consequently, it feels amateurish. The use of bright colors and the inventive dialogue may be enough for some to call this a good enough film, but I just feel like I’m sleeping on the wet patch after I didn’t even get to a climax. (You see, it’s clever because the film doesn’t have much of a climax! Doesn’t explain this wet patch though…)
This isn’t the worst film I’ve seen lately, but it’s nowhere near good enough to warrant a solid recommendation. If you like Jude Law and think it would be fun to see him act like an asshole for ninety minutes, you probably won’t regret a rental. I, on the other hand, need a little bit more before I can say I like a film. It needs to show me its raison d’etre, and I just don’t see a reason for this movie to exist.
Have a favorite Jude Law film? Let me know in the comments below.