“Dom Hemingway” is a film which struggles to live up to the promise of its blisteringly funny, aggressive and chaotic trailer. It suggests a cracking, foul-mouthed crime caper with Jude Law having an absolute blast as crazy, charismatic hot shot safecracker Dom Hemingway while Richard E Grant oozes haughty insouciance as his loyal sidekick Dickie Black.
Looking stylistically like the bastard lovechild of “Filth” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “Dom Hemingway” is, like its eponymous hero, stylish, colourful and utterly convinced of its own superiority. Jude Law gives one of his finest ever performances as the larger-than-life, funny, profane and verbose Dom Hemingway, who is released from prison after a 12 year stretch and is looking for his reward from crime boss Mr Fontaine (Demián Bichir) for all those years wasted in prison while his daughter grew up and his wife died. It’s not long, though, before Dom’s drink and drug fuelled celebratory bacchanalia brings him down to earth with a crash and he has to fall back on his old habits to keep his head above water.
While Jude Law is having the time of his life swaggering about the film spouting a fine tirade of expletive-peppered, colourfully metaphoric dialogue, his manic energy and pugnacious machismo aren’t nearly enough to sustain the rest of the film and I found myself constantly waiting for the plot to finally kick in. But in place of a cohesive narrative, we’re instead offered a loosely connected series of vignettes with Dom and Dickie stumbling from excess to crisis and back again without really achieving much. There are the beginnings of a number of interesting plots: the theft of Dom’s money by a devious femme fatale (Mădălina Diana Ghenea), a quirky possible romance with kooky ‘lucky penny’ Melody (Kerry Condon) and an attempted reconciliation with his estranged daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) but none of them really gain any traction or pay off in a satisfying manner, side-lined in favour of another underdeveloped plot line featuring the son of Dom’s former nemesis which at least leads to an amusing safe-cracking set piece.
With the exception of Law and Grant, none of the other cast members really make an impression, least of all Emilia Clarke, here unrecognisable from her most famous role as Daenerys Targaryen on “Game Of Thrones” but in their defence, there’s very little in the script for them to work with in the limited screen time they’re given.
With Jude Law giving it everything, this could have been a British gangster classic with a stronger story and sharper script but as it is, it’s more of a curate’s egg, only worth seeing for the vicarious fun you’ll have watching Jude Law and Richard E Grant lark about on screen.