Director Richard Shepard’s comedy Dom Hemingway tells you exactly what kind of film it is with its opening scene: Jude Law delivers an ode to his, um, member, directly into the camera while engaging in a certain act in a prison shower. It’s vulgar and hilarious all at the same time, and Law delivers the lines with such gusto that you’re inclined to take this guy’s word for it. The rest of the film is an absolute delight, but particularly the first act is a whirlwind mix of hilarity, sadness, and pure boldness as we follow the titular Hemingway’s very specific path to rehabilitation after being released from prison. Read my full Dom Hemingway Blu-ray review after the jump.
Following that very memorable opening scene, Dom Hemingway kicks into gear as Jude Law’s titular safecracker is released from prison after serving a 12-year sentence. His first stop, fittingly, is to beat-to-a-pulp the man who married his ex-wife, and his second stop (also fittingly) is to reconnect with his best friend Dickie (Richard E. Grant) at a pub. For sitting out his full sentence and refusing to rat out boss Ivan Fontaine (Demian Bichir), Dom is poised to receive a hefty monetary payment, so with Dickie in tow he heads up to Fontaine’s estate in the French countryside.
Though Dom is cordial enough as Ivan receives him with open arms, he can’t contain his contempt at doing over a decade of prison time for this man who has a gorgeous villa and a beautiful Romanian girlfriend (Madalina Diana), and he loses his cool, going off on a characteristic, expletive-filled tirade in front of the very dangerous Fontaine. The rest of the film deals with the fallout of the events at this French villa, and delves briefly into Dom trying to reconnect with his now-adult daughter, played by Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke.
Undoubtedly, the MVP of Dom Hemingway is Law. He wholly transforms himself for the role, and he’s almost completely unrecognizable not because of the makeup or the accent, but because he fully embodies this character with every fiber of his being. Dom is a brash, loud, ballsy drunkard, and Law plays him with an outward confidence that hides a deeper pain and sadness within. Even with all the brilliant monologues and hilarious turns of phrase, Law turns really turns in a wonderfully layered performance that’s among the best of the year.
Also excellent in the film is Grant, who strikes up a fantastic rapport with Law in the scenes between Dom and Dickie. Their rapid-fire exchanges—often involving the hurl of insults—are some of the best moments of the film, and Grant nearly steals the movie on multiple occasions. He’s the polite criminal to Hemingway’s arrogant loudmouth.
Though one might be initially inclined to mire the visual palate of Dom Hemingway in grays and blacks on account of the seemingly dark premise, Shepard goes the opposite way to fantastic results. The visual flair of the film is bold and striking, just like Dom himself, and Shepard uses a gorgeous mix of strong colors to accentuate every frame. Moreover, the cinematography by Giles Nuttgens is phenomenal. You could pick out pretty much any shot from the film and it’d be ready to hang as a professional piece of art. The staging of the actors in relation to the camera is done with a wonderful sense of space and relation, resulting in not only a hilarious film, but also a beautiful-looking one.
The story is firing all on cylinders throughout the first act, but it slows down a bit in the middle and never fully recaptures that initial sense of brashness and excitement. Though it does suffer from a slight drag and the father-daughter relationship is a tad underdeveloped, Law continues to be compelling throughout and a misadventure involving a safecracking bet is a spectacular balance of tension and comedy. Shepard’s visuals, in particular, are a refreshing respite from all the same-looking crime dramas that populate our movie theaters and television screens, and I hope he doesn’t wait as long between films this next time.
The film is presented in 1080p 2.35:1 and the video quality is absolutely gorgeous, with an impeccable DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix.
Unfortunately, the Blu-ray is pretty light on bonus features, which is to be expected from a small film that didn’t do big business at the box office.
- Audio Commentary – Shepard provides a director’s commentary that rather fun, with plenty of insights into his thought-process behind the film as well as anecdotes from the set.
- Featurettes – There’s a collection of four featurettes, all under five minutes in length, focusing on the character, the story, the look of the film and Law’s makeup, and then a general piece with interviews with the cast. Again, something more in-depth would have been preferable, but there are some interesting nuggets scattered throughout these EPK-style featurettes.
- Ping Pong Loop – You can watch a GIF of the two topless women playing ping pong on a loop. Really.