Don-Hemingway-Jude-Law-Richard-E-Grant1Jude Law might be one of the more underestimated A-list actors working today. Playing many different types of roles his filmography is about as diverse as they come. Looking at his body of work there are some really interesting performances. From Gattaca, Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain, Road to Perdition, to his recent turn in The Grand Budapest Hotel he’s an actor that crackles on film.  His new film Dom Hemingway after opening in the United Kingdom last year has an American release this week, and it’s easily one of his best roles in years.

Written and directed by Richard Shepard (The Matador) Dom Hemingway follows a vulgar, and explosive London thief who gets out of prison after serving a twelve year sentence as he gets out of prison. The opening scene of Dom telling the audience about his genitalia while getting a blowjob behind bars pretty much sums up how much of an egomaniac this guy is, and I doubt there will be a more memorable introduction to a character this year in a movie. Upon getting out of prison he meets up with partner in crime Dickie (Richard E. Grant), and goes looking to collect the cash he’s owed for not snitching on his crime boss (Demian Bichir) at his chic Provence villa. What results from the weekend bender of coke and debauchery is Dom and Dickie narrowly surviving a car accident. After the near death experience Dom tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) who’s reluctant to take him back. Quickly Dom finds himself back in some old habits that landed him in prison in the first place.

Law’s performance is a physical transformation, and a role audiences have never seen him in before. His over the top characterization of this ticking time bomb of a brute gives Law the opportunity to demonstrate that beneath all his British suave lays a chameleon of a character actor.  With a broken nose, a scruffy beard, and a little thicker in build than the normally slim Law, Dom is a loud mouth force to be reckoned with. Law has impeccable comic timing in the role, and is oddly sexy in an indescribable sort of way. In a strange way he’s never looked better then as the testosterone charged thug who can’t help but be likeable even through the appalling behavior that he demonstrates most of the time.

JudeLawDomThere’s some fine filmmaking by Shepard in the slick, and distinctive style of how the film looks. The production design looks as if it were pulled from the newest issue of Architectural Digest Magazine. Filled with warm reds to reflect the volital state of mind of its anti-hero, the film looks beautiful. The office of the night club owner whom is putting to test Dom’s safe cracking skills is just one of these cool set pieces that’s beautifully shot by cinematographer Giles Nuttgens.

One of the more unique qualities of the portrayal of Dom Hemingway is that the film never feels as if it needs to make him redeemable, but there is some great softer moments with Law that cut to the bone of his harshness. In just one subtle look that Law gives to the camera he communicates how much regret Dom is consumed with. It’s one of Law’s finest roles of his career, and one hopefully that he will be most remembered by in the years to come.