Opening 17 Apr 2014
Jude Law obviously had much fun portraying Dom Hemingway, a safe-cracker who has spent 12 years in prison. The film opens with him obviously naked, although we only see him from the top up. He is in deep concentration, reciting a soliloquy which would do Shakespeare proud: a five-minute “Ode to his own Penis.” Here soliloquies seem to be a form of announcing a change in the action. In this case, Dom learns shortly afterwards that his prison term has come to an end; he will be released. Once free he confronts Sandy Butterfeld, the man who cavorted with his wife, until she died of cancer, while he languished behind bars. That done he meets up with his former partner, Dickie. Together they visit Mr. Fontaine in his luxurious French villa, a place that “looks like a whorehouse belonging to Elton John.” Mr. Fontaine surely owes him a pile of money. After all, Hemingway never once squealed on his former boss.
This relatively short film (nowadays anything under two hours is short) portrays Hemingway as he comes close to the money owed him, is fascinated by Fontaine’s mysterious girlfriend, causes a car wreck with six people (preceded by another soliloquy), saves a life, visits his wife’s grave (which involves a soliloquy), and tries to make amends with his unforgiving daughter. The plot is relatively simple, almost fairy tale format. The charm comes from Jude Law as he bumbles through his new life, trying to find foot in the real world. This is an excellent chance to see talented actors, breathing life into mundane characters, whom you normally wouldn’t notice if you met them in any other way, e.g., Richard E. Grant as Dickie or gorgeous Madalina Diana Ghenea as Paolina or Jumayn Hunter as Lestor (who still wants revenge for the death of his tom cat Bernard). They more than fill the screen with their charismatic performances. The photography of location sites in France and London is excellent, too. Each shot is perfect – something you could frame and hang on your wall. And Emilie Clarke, who plays his daughter, really does sing “Fisherman’s Blues” in the night club. I had to watch the film in German, but would love to see it again in English, especially the first five minutes! (Becky Tan)