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Film review: ‘Dom Hemingway’ is uneven, but Jude Law carries it

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Jude Law has a field day playing a misanthrope in the uneven Dom Hemingway.

Three stars

Dom Hemingway Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir. Directed by Richard Shepard. Rated R. Opens Friday.

Dom Hemingway is such a macho movie that it opens with the title character (Jude Law) giving a florid speech about the wonders of his penis. Law’s committed performance is the biggest selling point for the inconsistent movie, which starts out as a vulgar crime comedy before detouring into a sometimes sentimental character study. The first half, which sees Dom released from jail after 12 years and reuniting with his best friend (Richard E. Grant) to collect the money he’s owed from a ruthless crime boss (Demian Bichir), has a sort of manic intensity, highlighted by Dom’s increasingly elaborate cursing and some creative, colorful visuals from writer-director Richard Shepard.

About halfway through, the movie switches gears to follow Dom back to London as he looks for work and tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke). While the volatile, misanthropic Dom is sort of a charming antihero, Shepard’s efforts to turn him into a sympathetic tragic figure fall flat, and Law’s performance isn’t enough to reconcile the conflicting portrayals of the character. It’s fun to marvel at Dom the irrepressible scumbag, but there isn’t much fun in his disingenuous struggle to be a better person.

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