When asked about the career of Jude Law, many would probably respond by naming films such as Alfie, or name him as an alumnus of ‘People’s Sexiest Man Alive’. There is no doubt that his personal life has become as well known as his film career, and up until now, he has not been named as a great actor in comparison to some of the other celebrities who are also recipients of the coveted ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ title.
Recently, however, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by his performances in such films as Sherlock Holmes and Anna Karenina. I had the pleasure of seeing him in London this past Christmas in a theatre production of Shakespeare’s Henry V, and I will not hesitate to admit that his performance was played with the skill and complexity required of the role that I had not previously believed he was capable of, especially when tasked with the title role in a coveted Shakespearean play! That being said, to say that Dom Hemingway is a character comparable to Henry V is a complete falsehood. The film was set in atypical circumstances, with atypical character profiles, and with a very crude and obnoxious title character whose behavior was carried out in an often-exaggerated manner. Nevertheless, Jude Law was the center of the film’s plot, and his performance was key in maintaining the viewer’s interest.
The story told a story of safecracker, Dom Hemingway, an Englishman who had spent 12 years in prison for refusing to testify against his criminal boss. Upon his release, he returned to his way of life that he enjoyed prior to his incarceration, (i.e., sex, drugs, and safe cracking). This dream did not last when he quickly discovered that too much had changed for him to repeat the past. Family matters, including the relationship between Dom and his daughter (played by Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke), who resented him for refusing to testify, invoked within the party-boy criminal a profound need to rehabilitate himself if he hoped to be accepted back into his family. The opening 30 minutes was slightly irritating – the plot moved slowly and there was an uncomfortably high amount of shouting and repeated use of montages that displayed Dom’s partying behaviour. The film even opened with a bizarre opening monologue of Law in jail, bragging about his sexual prowess. However, this “first act” of the film took a favorable turn towards Dom’s family life and hilarious integration into modern (and criminal) society in London.
Dom Hemingway was certainly a dark comedy that some may find over-the-top; but in retrospect, it should be viewed as a story of a rather likeable character despite his rather unlikeable lifestyle and occupation. At the end of the day, Dom wanted the same things out of life as anyone else: family, happiness and dignity. Moreover, the film was a perfect blend of the raucous, foul-mouthed egomaniac mixed with the sentimental and loving husband and father. I would have liked to seen a slightly stronger plotline, and at times, the editing seemed sloppy. Nonetheless, Dom Hemingway is a film that I would rank as one of Jude Law’s better films, with one of the best performances of his career to date.