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If you don’t recognise this week’s Beyond The Box Set selection, fear not – you’re not alone. Despite boasting a showy leading turn from Jude Law, Dom Hemingway barely made a ripple at the box office, grossing just over $500,000 in the USA against a $7 million budget.
Still, movies that get lost in the shuffle have a tendency to trickle down through various forms of home media, and a copy of this one somehow ended up among the DVD rentals in a small library in Llanidloes, Wales, where some years ago the mother of one half of our Podcast determined that it might make for diverting family viewing.
Dom Hemingway is not family viewing. It is, however, a riotously entertaining curio. If you’re a particular fan of Jude Law, his performance in this film ranks as an absolute must-watch. Often undervalued in his youth for his poster boy looks, Law gleefully abandons all vanity in this film, quite literally letting it all hang out as the paunchy, balding career criminal with a short fuse and mile-wide self-destructive streak. At times his performance is amped up almost to Nicholas Cage levels, but his absolute commitment to the part is never less than compelling.
The ever-reliable Richard E. Grant also offers sterling supporting work as Hemingway’s devoted co-conspirator/wingman Dickie. Styled like the reanimated corpse of a minor seventies crime lord, Grant’s louche, slightly spaced-out performance marks him as a sort of Patsy Stone to Law’s petulant Edina Monsoon. (Sidebar: Have Richard E. Grant and Joanna Lumley ever made a movie together, and if not, why not?). The interplay between the two characters provides most of the film’s best scenes, elevating moments when the dialogue isn’t quite as clever as it appears to think it is.
Overall the film has too many problems to rank as a genuine lost classic – uneven pacing, jarring tonal shifts and a truly unpleasant final scene chief among them – but as overlooked curios go, it’s definitely worth revisiting. Law clearly enjoyed playing the character, so if he ever wanted to squeeze back into those eye-wateringly tight Savile Row trousers, we have some suggestions for where Dom Hemingway could go next…
John’s Pitch | Dom Hemingway 2: The Wizard of Walthamstow
Harry’s Pitch | Dom Hemingway: Fury Road
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If you’re one of the select few who did see this movie – or if you were inspired to watch it by this Podcast – let us know your thoughts and sequel ideas in the comments section below, or by contacting us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We love to hear from our listeners, and the best comments may earn you a shout-out on a future episode.