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Review: ‘Dom Hemingway’ an entertaining diversion

By G. Allen Johnson
San Francisco Chronicle
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- FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
Gangster Dom Hemingway (Jude Law, left), just out of jail, with his pal Dickie (Richard E. Grant) in the British crime comedy “Dom Hemingway.”

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  • Dom Hemingway

    Cast: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir. Grade: B

    Writer-director: Richard Shepard

    Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

    Rating: R (sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use)



I never would have thought Jude Law, that wispy-thin pretty boy of “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and the “Sherlock Holmes” movies, could ever resemble Terence Stamp in full-blown General Zod mode, but there he is in “Dom Hemingway,” balding, with a thin patch of hair left on the top of the dome, a menacing beard and chewing the scenery.

Indeed, this raunchy, foul-mouthed crime comedy about a safecracker and his first few days out of the joint after completing a 12-year sentence seems to exist exactly for that reason: scenery chewing.

Law does that extremely well, and Richard Shepherd’s film is a welcome addition to that ribald genre of British crime comedies perfected by Guy Ritchie (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”), wherein a bunch of blokes with working-class accents cause mayhem and destruction and generally have a good time doing it.

Dom spends his first three days upon his release trying to catch up with all the drinking, smoking, drug-taking and sex (with prostitutes) that he’s missed for a dozen years.

Then, with his best friend and fellow crook Dickie (a wonderful Richard E. Grant), it’s off to the south of France to see the powerful gangster Fontaine (Demian Bichir), for whom Dom did the full stretch of his sentence (had he blabbed, he would have been paroled in two or three years), to collect his hush money.

Leave it to Dom to screw things up – he’s an expert at it. Instead of just taking the money and being set for life, Dom, fueled by alcohol, lets loose his lingering resentment against Fontaine – and his attraction to Fontaine’s super-hot girlfriend (Madalina Diana Ghenea). Suddenly, we have a dangerous situation here.

There are other plot elements – Dom trying to reconnect with his daughter (predictable), and trying to get up to speed with his safecracking – but “Dom Hemingway” isn’t about story. It’s about Jude Law as a force of nature, and that turns out to be a very entertaining diversion.

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