Comparable to 'Filth', 'Dom Hemingway' is a master class acting session starring an accomplished actor, stuck in a movie that can't possibly live up to the near mythical status of the main characters. In 'Filth' James McAvoy lets loose as a corrupt cop. The movie surrounding him isn't much to get excited about, but his performance is electric. Jude Law is the title character, Dom Hemingway, who begins the movie describing in detail just how great his man parts are. He's a larger-than-life character stuck in a movie that can't possibly live up to whatever it is a character like that demands. One wonders what a movie pitting Bruce and Dom against each other would be like.
Law is unstoppable here. He plays Dom, a safecracking con-man who's been locked up for a dozen years. Finally he's out and he wants to get paid for not ratting anyone out. However, Dom really isn't the most judicial criminal. He's a megalomaniac who simply can't help himself. The movie is full of overly verbose monologues as Dom waxes semi-eloquently about how he's been wronged, how the world owes him, and how he's just the best criminal to have ever walked the planet.
Even when he's face-to-face with his old boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir), the most powerful man this side of the Atlantic, Dom can't help but burn those bridges too. In a spectacular profanity-laden rant, Dom lays out how he didn't squeal in prison, how he gave up 12 years of his life, and how he's owed more than however much Mr. Fontaine has promised him. Watching Law spit his demands – quite literally – is what the movie is all about. It's simply a stage to observe Jude Law in a movie where he isn't asked to be a slight variation of his normal self. No, here he's unlike anything character you've ever seen him play.
Watching an actor like Law chew up scene after scene is only so satisfying. After a while the monologues become redundant. Something needs to change with this man. He's so overtly horrible, to everyone, that some sort of character-changing catharsis has to come at some point. His estranged daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) offers such a pathway. Though the screenplay beats around the bush, never quite arriving at a place that it so often hints to.
Dom is a rotten person. Law is really an amazing actor. He gives the part his all, sadly there's not much to the movie to make all the raw acting worth it. Dom is forced to live out his existence in a warmed-over Guy Ritchie plot, with lukewarm characters orbiting Dom's undeniable gravity. He's just too much for the thinness surrounding him. He's the only thing holding up a gangster movie that we've seen numerous times before.
If I keep talking about Law's performance here, it's because that's really all there is to talk about. It's a one man show essentially. Dom is an unchecked force. No one in the movie even comes close to matching his manic energy. He's the ball of fire at the center of a frigid tale.
Throw Dom Hemmingway in a better, more engaging movie and perhaps it's one of the most memorable performances ever. As it is, with him inhabiting such a forgettable space, he crushes it under his weight. Because he's asked to carry the movie on his shoulders it's entirely too easy to become disenchanted with him long before the movie comes to its vague conclusion.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a pretty sparse Blu-ray release. The movie comes on a 50GB disc and comes with a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. A standard Blu-ray keepcase caps it off. It's labelled as being a Region A release.
Boasting 1080p AVC-encoded visuals, 20th Century Fox's high-def presentation of 'Dom Hemingway' is as good as they come for lower-budget independent films. The color and detail are, for the most part, spectacular to observe. There really is some great photography going on here, and the HD presentation captures just about everything.
'Dom Hemingway' features an extremely eclectic color palette. Reds stand out in bold crimson shades. The faded ugly green of the prison walls behind Dom during his opening monologue remind me of the wacky colored walls in 'Nanny McPhee', and it's just as vibrant too. Notice the cracks and chunks of brick which have fallen away over time. The age of the prison wall is on full display because the detail is so superb here.
As far as artifacting goes, I only noticed a couple instances of light to medium banding during fade-outs. The black areas surrounding the image fading from view were slightly ringed with varying shades of gray. It doesn't happen very often, but it was noticeable when it did. Though, that said, the shadows within the film are very well delineated. There are just a few spots to call attention to, but nothing that doesn't hold this release from receiving a high score.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is as solid and pleasing as its video counterpart. As you may have guessed, a talk-heavy film like 'Dom Hemingway' doesn't have much in the way of ear-drum-busting audio effects. Instead we're talking about a movie where most of its mix is centered up front by design.
Dialogue is strong and clear. Law's accent for Dom is impressively thick, though the mix up front allows you to discern it with as much clarity as possible. Rear channels are subdued much of the time. There's a club scene where we get some ambient sound, along with some traffic on London streets. Low-end sound, like the rear channel activity, stays pretty quiet. There are some intense moments that call for a good dose of bass though. When the bass is used it does everything right. There's not much to complain about here. Just a talkative movie with a front-heavy mix, which does what it's asked to do.
'Dom Hemingway' has a fantastic central character who outgrows his own movie. He gets so big for it that the movie can't contain him. I'm sure Dom would agree that he's floating around in something which is utterly beneath him. Something that he could crush with his shoe if he pleased.
This is worth seeing once for Jude Law's shenanigans. The video and audio are solid, so there's nothing to worry about there. It's worth a rental if you're intrigued by the thought of watching Law ACT!