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Screen » Film

A Right Bastard

Hey Jude, You're Wrong for Dom Hemingway

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I can see why Jude Law wanted the part of Dom Hemingway—he's entirely against type for the heartthrob who once played the perfectly bronzed, lean Dickie Greenleaf. Dom, on the other hand, is a burly, boozy, burnsided safecracker on the back end of a 12-year-stint in the pokey. (Do they call prison "the pokey" in England? Probably not.) Dom Hemingway seems to think its titular character's a colorful, loquacious lout with anger management issues and a propensity for oratory. But the longer you sit with him—and Law's doing his best, but he's just wrong for the part, not to mention far too young—the more you realize Dom is nothing more than a right bastard.

The first half of Hemingway follows Dom to the South of France, where his old boss rewards him for not snitching while doing time. By this point, we've already seen Dom receive a hummer from a fellow prisoner and then beat the stuffing out of his ex-wife's widower, so we know he's going to mess it up somehow. Needless to say, he doesn't get his money, so the second half follows Dom's pitiful attempts to make amends with Evelyn (Emilia Clarke), the daughter whose childhood he missed.

Fans of Clarke on Game of Thrones will be infuriated by how little she has to do here, and the only other character of note is Dom's crook pal Dickie, played with irritating awkwardness by Richard E. Grant (who you'll recognize from something or other, possibly). Otherwise, the film is entirely fixed on Law, who's both the best thing about it and its stumbling block.

The role was probably written for Ray Winstone or Brendan Gleeson, and Law does offer a fair amount of heart and soul to Hemingway. But he's just not powerful enough. One great safecracking scene aside, Dom Hemingway is too smugly clever and too predictably repugnant. If you want to see Law really go off the rails, rent Repo Men instead.

Dom Hemingway

Dir. Richard Shepard

Opens Fri April 18

Various Theaters

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