What you seize is what you get
Standard crime film, while good, is not for everyone
By Ian Murphy 04/10/2014
Directed by Richard Shepard
Starring: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Emilia Clarke
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use
1 hr. and 33 min.
When watching a crime film, the audience can generally expect a few things: violence, attempted redemption and various levels of debauchery. Dom Hemingway is certainly no different, and while throughly executed and entertaining, it’s an acquired taste.
Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is the title character and “protagonist,” who is a funny and very profane safe cracker. After 12 years in prison, he sets off with his partner in crime and almost voice of reason Dickie (Richard E. Grant) looking to collect what he’s owed for keeping his mouth shut and protecting his boss, the eccentric Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir). While on his quest, Dom tries to re-connect with his estranged daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke), who has had nothing to do with her father while he was in prison. Despite his brash, cynical views of the business that landed him in trouble in the first place, Dom can’t quite help but be seduced by it, and ultimately must make a painful decision about what is most important. Not just to him, but to those who now surround him.
Richard Shepard’s films are never easy. As a director, he seems to relish making the audience uncomfortable. The opening scene in this picture is proof of that. But unlike some of the gangster movies that clearly inspired this one (Snatch and Donnie Brasco), Dom Hemingway can’t seem to find a true balance and it ends up being a bizarre ride that leaves the viewer asking, “What did I just watch?”
Law is fantastic, however, and seems to be having more fun making the movie than most people will watching it. Richard E. Grant, looking like a vampiric Peter Fonda, is well-cast as Dom’s long-suffering Sancho Panza to Hemingway’s Don Quixote. And an almost unrecognizable Emilia Clarke, who is best-known as the fierce mother of dragons from Game of Thrones, portrays Dom’s daughter Evelyn with an honest, emo-esque quality that brings gravity to the film. Go see this movie if you like the rough stuff, but don’t expect much in the way of satisfying cohesion. Nevertheless, it’s a very entertaining way to spend an hour and a half in the dark.
Not to be missed
Another film to consider giving 90 minutes to is Bad Words from actor/director Jason Bateman, a raunchy, in-your-face comedy that is refreshingly deeper than the red band trailer would suggest. Bateman plays Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man who has taken it upon himself to enter and win the national spelling bee . . . for children. The rules state that contestants must not have graduated beyond the eighth grade, and Guy has not. Thus, despite prolific protests from all of the other contestants’ parents, Guy gets to compete. He is reluctantly befriended by a lonely, overachieving kid named Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand) and together they wreak havoc on the distinguished participants of the spelling bee and the rest of the community around them.
Bad Words is the comedy of the year. It has a unique blend of crass and caring that many filmmakers attempt, with most not making the grade. But between the delightfully depraved script from writer Andrew Dodge and the adept direction/performance of Jason Bateman, this is a movie that begs to be seen and heard. It is in very limited release but very much worth the effort to view.