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Hard-Up Hemingway

The macho brilliance of Dom Hemingway can’t last
Remember when Jude Law was pretty?
Remember when Jude Law was pretty?

Remember when Jude Law was pretty? Go back and watch Existenz, or A.I. or Gattaca, when he was often blonde and proper, and always a little bit cold. Then watch Dom Hemingway, in which he is, in so many ways, the opposite: earthy and sweaty and living it up. His hair sweeps back from a sharply pointed hairline, dyed dark brown and never clean; he’s carrying just enough extra weight (by movie-star standards) that his clothes bunch and puff in the wrong places, like real-person clothes. 

None of this stops the titular character from spending the first several minutes of the film waxing poetic about his cock. It’s almost Deadwood-level macho brilliance, lyrical and delivered with a generous helping of spit. Even as the excess of self-praise inspires uncomfortable giggles, Law’s balls-out delivery of the speech sets the bar pretty high for what’s to follow — which does the rest of the movie no favors.

Dom Hemingway is a colorful romp, the story of a safecracker who spent more than a decade locked up, refusing to rat on his boss, but it runs out of steam halfway through. Hemingway and his bestie Dickie (perpetually put-upon Richard E. Grant) head to the south of France to collect the nice pile of cash Hemingway’s silence has earned from his former boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir, only nibbling at the scenery where another actor might nosh).  But Hemingway’s off his game and on a lot of coke, and when everything inevitably goes south, he winds up back in London on the doorstep of Evelyn (Emilia Clarke, gloriously freed from her blonde Game of Thrones wig), the daughter he hasn’t seen in years. 

As a bit of arrested development/getting-out-of-the-game fluff, Dom Hemingway isn’t bad, but both the movie and Law run out of gas as Hemingway fails to impress either Evelyn or the London club owner who might give him more work. Only at the very end, when Hemingway begins to find a balance between his aggressive charisma and his genuine desire to be a decent man, does the movie, too briefly, hit its stride again.