I unreservedly love Richard Shepards Dom Hemingway, and I strongly urge everyone with a taste for quirky, dark crime comedy of the British variety to beat a path to The Carolina to see this unabashedly vulgar and wildly creative movie. It deals in matters both profane and, finally, sacred. And while the accent is certainly on the profane, the film has redemption on its mind. This is a movie that begins with over a minute of Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) waxing rhapsodic over the wonders and delights of his male member. That alone will probably clue you in on whether or not Dom Hemingway is something youd care to see. (And if it doesnt, the payoff to this particular monologue will.) The reason I urge haste in this matter lies in my suspicion that the film will vanish quickly. This is a movie that ought to have been screened for local critics, but it slipped through the cracks and wasnt. Its the kind of movie that would have benefited from some critical push and it didnt get it in time for that all-important opening weekend.
If you saw Shepards 2005 film The Matador you have some idea of what Dom Hemingway is like tonally but Dom Hemingway is even better. As the films tagline puts it, Jude Law is Dom Hemingway, and youre not. (Before the film is over youll probably be glad youre not.) Law really is or seems to be Dom Hemingway. Ive always thought of Law as an underappreciated actor, but this is unlike anything hes done, and he truly inhabits the role to the point that Law completely disappears. All you see on that screen is Dom Hemingway in all his hot-headed, vulgar, oversexed, egotistical glory. There is just an undercurrent that deep down, Dom knows hes a blowhard, a failure and his own worst enemy. (There is no shortage of applicants for the title of Doms worst enemy.) The only thing Dom seems to have going for him is the friendship of the sardonic and enigmatic Dickie Black (the great Richard E. Grant in his best role in 20 years).
When the film opens, Dom is just getting out of prison after a 12-year stint for safecracking, and the 12 years have cost him dearly. His wife has died, and his daughter has grown to hate him. Naturally, from his point of view, the first thing he does upon his release is beat up the man who took up with his wife during his incarceration. Only then does he, with the help of Dickie, set out to get what hes owed by his old boss and underworld kingpin, Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir). Despite Doms drunken abuse and demands not to mention openly lusting after Fontaines girlfriend, Paolina (Madalina Ghenea) Fontaine remains gracious. Not only does he pony up the 250,000 pounds Doms owed for keeping his mouth shut, but he throws in the 500,000-pound present Dom wants. More, Fontaine provides hookers, booze and endless cocaine by way of celebration.
Unforunately, this ends in a wild car ride and crash, in the aftermath of which, Doms money is stolen by Paolina while hes busy saving the life of genially ditzy hooker, Melody (Kerry Condon, This Must Be the Place). All he gets for his trouble is Melodys assertion that when you save someones life it means good fortune will befall you when you most need it and least expect it. And this is where Doms troubles and his possible redemption really begin. Broke and bitter, Dom tries to put his life back together in a number of obviously ill-advised, and sometimes very funny, ways that tend to be not only fruitless but often dangerous.