If you’ve tired of watching Jude Law play the same milquetoast blueblood Englishman in everything from the “Sherlock Holmes” series to great movies like “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Dom Hemingway” offers a significant revelation.
Writer-director Richard Shepard must have seen something in Law that some of us hadn’t, because he made the unlikely decision to cast him as the verbose, haughty South Londoner ex-con Dom Hemingway, a man imbued with an immense sense of self-importance.
Law is front and center from start to finish in this hugely entertaining comedy, the axis around which the satire of masculinity spins.
And he kills it. It’s an immense work, deeply humane, achieving the tricky feat of enhancing Dom’s braggadocio, his bursts of anger, with a core of regret and vulnerability.
The accomplishment should not be understated. The movie begins with an extended monologue in which Dom offers a hosanna to his privates, with the camera trained on his sweaty, straining face, for goodness sake. The character beats people, demands things, brags incessantly, alienates those closest to him and just generally behaves like an entitled egotistical jerk.
The movie doesn’t have a plot; it’s a character study centered on this braggadocio as he’s released from prison, where he served 12 years as the fall guy for a crime boss (Demian Bichir), and sets out to be remunerated.
Shepard, who achieved a similar archetype-defying feat with Pierce Brosnan in “The Matador,” has a strong grasp of pacing and tone, giving the movie a farcical edge without descending completely into anarchy.
Mostly, he’s smart enough to get out of the way and let his star completely subvert our expectations. It’s a full-on career rebirth.
Directed by Richard Shepard
Starring Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Emilia Clarke
Playing at Angelika, Lincoln Square