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Dom Hemingway (2/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 93 minutes.

Not for children.

Rarely does the opening scene of a film project its quality and entire content, but this one does. If you like Jude Law’s opening monologue, a profanity-laden paean to his male member, you should like what follows. If, on the other hand, you are like me and find the monologue cringeworthy and distasteful in the extreme, you are advised to walk out and not return, because it doesn’t get any better.

Law plays the titular Dom and to say he plays it to excess is not mincing words. Although billed as a comedy, there’s nothing the least bit humorous in this dark tale of a guy who is obviously a sociopath.

This is a big comedown for writer/director Richard Shepard, whose 2005 film The Matador was such a pleasant outing for Pierce Brosnan. That was a comedy. Shepard has lost his way if he thinks this is one.

As to the dialogue, when Dom talks about a “revolution” to crime boss Mr.Fontaine aka Ivan Anatoli (Demian Bichir), Mr. Fontaine replies, “If that’s an adverb it’s not working.” This epitomizes the picture of Mr. Fontaine as a crime boss who is genteel, polite, erudite, and patient. Real life crime bosses are more like John Gotti, who was a cold-blooded killer totally devoid of human compassion. Charm and patience and forbearance aren’t part of their makeup. And they certainly don’t put up with the abusive nonsense from underlings that Dom heaps on him. But this is a movie, and that’s no place to expect reality.

The Production Notes proclaim, “…no matter how much sacrilegious mayhem he spreads wherever he goes, the audience can’t help but hope, however improbably, for his redemption.” Maybe Shepard believes this, but whenever a film highlights a protagonist who is disagreeable and unsympathetic, it dooms itself. Dom is an unremitting jerk. He is rude, crude, and possesses no redeeming values, save that he loves his daughter, Evelyn (Emilia Clarke, in a good performance; known by some for her appearance in HBO’s Game of Thrones). She, in turn, hates him and she’s got a good reason.  He is such a disputatious jackass I never identified with Dom or hoped he would get it together. I was thinking that Mr. Fontaine should just plug Dom and put him (and the audience) out of misery. When you make a film in which the audience roots against your protagonist, you’ve got problems.

Why anyone would want to spend time on a film as vulgar, emotionally violent, and silly as this one is beyond me.