Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: Dom Hemingway

Dom Hemingway | $$$

  • Written and directed by Richard Shepard.
  • Starring Jude Law, Richard E Grant, Emilia Clarke.

PHIL vs BILL How much you enjoy this dark comedy-thriller will depend on your tolerance of Jude Law in turbo-charged, motor-mouth mode as an out-of-luck, out-of-work, just out of jail safecracker seeking remuneration from a Russian gangster for his 12 years inside. Richard E Grant leavens the overkill of profane, rage-drenched angst as his dapper but disarmingly daft best friend while Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke engages as his estranged daughter. Girls vet Richard Shepard (The Hunting Party) directs his own haphazard screenplay, and the sublime Blu-ray transfer mitigates extras as soft as the movie’s ending.

PHIL vs BILL
How much you enjoy this dark comedy-thriller will depend on your tolerance of Jude Law in turbo-charged, motor-mouth mode as an out-of-luck, out-of-work, just out of jail safecracker seeking remuneration from a Russian gangster for his 12 years inside. Richard E Grant leavens the overkill of profane, rage-drenched angst as his dapper but disarmingly daft best friend while Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke engages as his estranged daughter. Girls vet Richard Shepard (The Hunting Party) directs his own haphazard screenplay, and the sublime Blu-ray transfer mitigates extras as soft as the movie’s ending. — Phil Wakefield.

As sometimes watercolourist and general genocidal maniac Mr A. Hitler of Vienna was to discover, winning most of the battles doesn’t mean winning the whole bloody war.

Such is the case with Dom Hemingway, which turns pretty boy Jude Law into super-geezer Dom Hemingway, a hard as nails, mean bastard who looks a lot like a 1980s Phil Collins evil robot. (Now there’s an idea.)

It’s full of great scenes. For instance, setting the tone, is Dom being serviced in prison in a very senusal manner while all the time orating about the glories of his cock. (If you need to rush away now to see it, YouTube knows it as Jude Law Cock Monologue. ) It’s very good. It’s nicely written. It’s very funny. Here is but a brief extract:

My Nobel Prize-winning cock’s like a cheetah,
all sleek and dangerous and deadly.
Sonnets should be written about how dangerous my cheetah cock is.
Poems, plays. Wars should be won over it, kingdoms fallen because of it.
My cock is lightning. It is fire.

I tell you with sincerity, had they but taught that in fourth form English at Marlborough Boy’s College, I might have remembered at least one poem that year.

The whole movie is full of wondrous dialogue, fantastic swearing, villainy, stupidity and drunken arseholery. So it’s entertaining most of the time.

It is the tale of Hemingway, seeking money for keeping quiet for 12 years in jail, in which time his wife died, his daughter grew to despise him, and his best friend lost his left hand.

Richard E Grant and Jude Law. Or Dickie and Dom, if going full method

Richard E Grant and Jude Law. Or Dickie and Dom, if going full method.

Richard E Grant as Dickie, Dom’s best mate, is lovely as a fellow villain and doting friend. They have great chemistry and Dickie just has to gape in charmed wonder at some of the things Hemingway does and says.

Because surprisingly, Dom can be endearing. I mean, endearing in a way the first thing a man who is released from prison does is beat the snot out of his former wife’s second husband. Who she married after divorcing him. And then dying of cancer.

But the scriptwriter/director Richard Shepard chickens out. He just couldn’t allow all this badness to continue and it is the desperate but perennial notion of redemption that does the movie in.

It just collapses at the end when Dom, trying to right his many, many wrongs, attempts to reconnect with his daughter and her son.

I mean, that’s very nice for them, but what about me. I had to go and shake the case to make sure there wasn’t a second disc in there, such was the feeling they stuck the ending from the wrong goddam movie onto it.

Down under: Dom Hemingway during his prison monologue about Mr Happy.

Down under: Dom Hemingway during his prison monologue about Mr Happy.

My viewing partner, one Dr Patrick Moloney, formerly of Victoria University’s political science department and now of Hokitika’s Southside B and B (a lovely spot it is, too), also expressed groans of dismay when it ended at the feeling that more needed to be done. Wrongs had to be righted. Loose ends had to be entwined.

And the extras. God almighty. Two three-minute pieces of puff discussing the movie. The most comprehensive movie technology in the world today and they give us that rubbish. Not good enough. Not at all. (And there’s nothing worth waiting for behind the credits, either.)

It’s $39.99 from some places. Don’t bother. Stream it from a reputable company. You’ll be pleased you did, though your sweariness will probably go up by 300 per cent for a wee while.

Bill O’Byrne is a failed practitioner in the art of making movies. He has an imaginary Masters degree in being able to sit goggle-eyed and stare at TVs for hours on end. He is previously the official astrologer for the New Zealand Army and once made a complete cock of himself in front of Douglas Adams in Palmerston North. He has assorted nonsense here: kiwispacepatrol.wordpress.com.
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One Response to “Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: Dom Hemingway”

  1. So 2 stars for the film and 5 stars for the review is my rating. Very funny review.

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