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Originally published Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 3:05 PM

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‘Dom Hemingway’: Jude Law as far-from-pretty-boy con

Descending deep into the character of a recently sprung British safecracker, Jude Law is the best part of “Dom Hemingway.”


Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Dom Hemingway,’ with Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Emilia Clarke, Kerry Condon, Jumayn Hunter. Written and directed by Richard Shepherd. 93 minutes. Rated R for sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use. Several theaters.

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Dom Hemingway, played by a nearly unrecognizable Jude Law, is not a nice fellow; he’s the sort who, in his own words, would “gut you with a dull cheese knife and sing Gilbert and Sullivan while I do it.” He’s the title character of Richard Shepherd’s new caper-ish crime film, and he’s a safecracker fresh out of 12 years in a British prison, ready to visit his old boss in France and collect what’s owed him. Of that boss (Demian Bichir), well ... “He was raised in a Russian orphanage and kills people for a living. Of course he has a well-stocked bar.”

“Dom Hemingway” has two terrific things going for it: snappy dialogue (I was quite fond of the accusation “You disrespected my cat”) and Law, who’s both funny and scary in equal measures. The beautiful creature of “The Talented Mr. Ripley” is hidden here under extra pounds, a facial scar and the kind of sideburns that seem to be planning an assault on his mouth, and he dives into the role of Dom with wicked gusto. It’s a magnetic, nuanced performance, both physically — Dom walks with his arms slightly held out from his sides, as if perpetually ready to throw a punch — and emotionally, as Law lets us see this tough guy’s weak spot for his now-grown, estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke).

The movie isn’t quite as good as its star; Shepherd can’t seem to find a consistent tone, and “Dom Hemingway” feels more like a series of well-written set pieces than a cohesive whole. But for the most part, it’s good, raunchy fun — and a pleasure to watch an actor turning dialogue into weird poetry. “My head’s going to explode,” a hung over Dom moans to his sidekick (Richard E. Grant). “Bits of my brain are going to fly everywhere. It’s going to ruin your blazer.”

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com



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