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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film Reviews - Michael Bodey This week

JUDE Law is be­com­ing a more in­ter­est­ing ac­tor as he loses his looks. Or at least his hair.

It is a truth now uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged. The trailer to the com­ing se­quel of Rob Bry­don and Steve Coogan’s com­edy trav­el­ogue, The Trip to Italy, fea­tures a lovely lit­tle gag about Law, who “hasn’t aged like you and I”. “Yeah, he’s got that re­ally young, bald look,” Coogan snipes.

The 41-year-old be­gan his ca­reer on the Lon­don stage and Bri­tish tele­vi­sion be­fore the req­ui­site break­through screen role in an in­de­pen­dent crime drama, Shop­ping. Hind­sight sug­gests cin­ema be­came en­am­oured more with his un­fea­si­ble good looks than his talent. He be­came eye candy in glossy, frothy Hol­ly­wood af­fairs, in­clud­ing Steven Spiel­berg’s A.I. Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence, Anthony Minghella’s Cold Moun­tain and Martin Scors­ese’s The Avi­a­tor.

He has two Academy Award nom­i­na­tions, for The Tal­ented Mr Ri­p­ley and Cold Moun­tain, but it’s hard to re­call a per­for­mance where Law re­ally killed it (al­though he was rather good in Mike Ni­chols’s Closer in 2004).

To­day, Law is act­ing the part of a 40some­thing who doesn’t need mag­a­zine cov­ers any more. His play with Robert Downey Jr in the dis­pos­able Sher­lock Holmes se­ries is light and con­trasts suc­cess­fully with his per­for­mance in Steven Soder­bergh’s neat thriller Side Ef­fects.

Now comes Dom Hem­ing­way, a Lon­don gang­ster movie no­table al­most solely for Law’s swag­ger­ing per­for­mance. Imag­ine a lighter ver­sion of Tom Hardy as vi­o­lent con­vict Bron­son and you’ll come close to Law’s turn as the ti­tle char­ac­ter, an emo­tional cock­ney safe­cracker.

Dom Hem­ing­way (MA15+, Para­mount, 93min, $29.99) be­gins with a so­lil­o­quy about his, ahem, “cock” and then a beat­ing that es­tab­lishes his nar­cis­sism and short-fuse vi­o­lence.

Writer-di­rec­tor Richard Shep­ard doesn’t turn over new nar­ra­tive ter­ri­tory with his tale of a ca­reer crim re­turn­ing to the streets af­ter years in the can. But Shep­ard fol­lows so many re­cent Lon­don crime films in think­ing screen vi­o­lence alone is an en­ter­tain­ment.

Rather, the vi­o­lence is in Hem­ing­way’s lan­guage, a fusil­lade of bons mots, pro­fan­ity and sharp phras­ing. Two col­leagues, played by the re­li­able Richard E. Grant and re­strained Demian Bichir, stand aside for Law, who growls in a pleas­ing pack­age that in­cludes vi­brant pro­duc­tion de­sign, a punchy sound­track fea­tur­ing Big Coun­try and the Pix­ies, and rich vis­tas, par­tic­u­larly in a French so­journ.

It be­comes too sen­ti­men­tal with the ad­di­tion of Dom’s daugh­ter, Eve­lyn ( Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke), but it barely mat­ters. Dom Hem­ing­way is dis­pos­able and in ser­vice of one thing: Law’s per­for­mance. And that’s en­ter­tain­ing enough.

Twit­ter: @michael­bodey

Closed Cir­cuit

(MA15+) Univer­salSony (121min, $39.95)

(G) Dis­ney (98min, $39.95)

(M) eOne (98min, $29.99)

(M) Trans­mis­sion (116min, $34.99)

Frozen

Philom­ena

The Rail­way Man

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