Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemingway, starring Jude Law as an aging felon and Richard E. Grant (yes) as his best friend, is a bizarre genre hybrid of gangster entertainment and family tearjerker. At first we seem to be solidly in lads’-night-out funland: splashy neon colors, head-butting and gut-punching, terrific music, wenching and boozing and unauthorized smoking. There are rivers of obscenity and wordy, actory speeches. (All of these are given to Law’s titular Dom, which is a shame, since if anyone can speechify it’s Richard E. Grant. The man is to monologues what piranhas are to luckless Amazonian fishermen.) The movie opens with an extended ode to Dom’s, let’s say, virility, and you think you know the kind of movie it’s going to be.
But even in that opening scene, Law’s face is so distorted and his voice so desperate that he seems genuinely deranged. The movie whipsaws the audience’s sympathies: Dom is our POV character, but he’s violently unstable and his idea of fun rapidly stops being yours.