A recounting of Domino Harvey's life story. The daughter of actor Laurence Harvey turned away from her career as a Ford model to become a bounty hunter.A recounting of Domino Harvey's life story. The daughter of actor Laurence Harvey turned away from her career as a Ford model to become a bounty hunter.A recounting of Domino Harvey's life story. The daughter of actor Laurence Harvey turned away from her career as a Ford model to become a bounty hunter.
In "Domino," the true significance of the story rests within Scott's seemingly problematic, electric visuals. The weight of Scott's storytelling in this film is immense but creatively camouflaged behind a sexed-up facade. In reality, the late Domino Harvey, was, and still is, just as complicated a riddle, waiting to be solved. It makes sense, then, that any film portraying Harvey would follow suit.
"Domino" is based, "sort of," on Harvey's wild days as a Los Angeles bounty hunter. The film, narrated by Domino (Keira Knightley), shows flashbacks of her life and offbeat career. Laurence Harvey, Domino's movie star father, dies and her mother decides to leave England for California, taking her young daughter with her. In Los Angeles, Domino grows up an outsider, gets kicked out of schools and tries modeling but quickly tires of it. Finally the ex-model, who says she's been practicing violence since age 12, decides to make a career out of bounty hunting.
In due course, the professionals, Ed and Choco (Mickey Roarke and Edgar Ramirez) take a chance on the tough-as-nails rookie and soon the three become inseparable. They bust fugitives, living life on the fringe, until Domino's story reaches Hollywood TV execs, who send cameras to trail her as part of an ill-advised reality show named, "Bounty Squad."
Naturally, the bounty hunters' lives are later thrown into further chaos when a job gets botched by the conflicting agendas of their bail bondsman boss, the FBI, the mob and four anonymous crooks. The twists and turns lead to a dramatic denouement in Las Vegas - a bloodbath, which takes place at the top of the Stratosphere Hotel, amid the roar of circling FBI helicopters (in true Tony Scott fashion).
The film is unapologetically divergent from the truth; many details are completely fictional. Despite these trespasses, however, "Domino" does what it is supposed to do; it gets the most important things right The facts are ultimately irrelevant because Harvey's distinctive spirit is represented.
In the images flickering frenetically across the screen, Scott succeeds in evoking the sense of a powerful yet fragile existence one that is undoubtedly true to life. His stock double exposures and psychedelic colors aren't gratuitous here; Scott uses them to convey the dangerous and transient nature of Harvey's life in a way that seems both hyper-splashy and acutely insightful. It's not often that one can fulfill the commercial requisite at the same time as being attentive to character, but Scott pulls it off.
Domino states in the film, as she also stated in life, that she finds the Hollywood fishbowl, the "'90210' world," abhorrent. So how does this mesh with the glittering fakery Scott displays? The answer is: perfectly. Though "Domino" is highly exemplary of Tinseltown's bombastic commercialization, this works in the film's favor because "Domino" is, in many ways, a deliberate swipe at the entertainment industry a self-reflexive film masquerading as a popcorn action flick, which satirizes LA's charlatans in a way Harvey probably would've greatly appreciated.
During their introductions, Ed, lead bounty hunter, asks Domino what her full name is, to which she replies, "Just Domino." At the end of the film, cast credits flash on screen sans identifying surnames. You don't have to be a genius to understand the meaning of this. We all know who Keira Knightley is from our tabloid magazines, but "Keira" is an unknown, just as Domino was a stranger to anyone who knew her famous father.
By the end of "Domino," the only people who seem real are the bounty hunters. Though Domino and her crew are ruthless, antisocial, gun-toters, they are infinitely more likable than the nymphomaniac entertainment lawyers, the nameless FBI agents and the smarmy television actors who populate the rest of the film. These are people who live far more nauseating existences. They are the people whose messes Domino cleans up.
Keira Knightley, excellently cast in the lead role, simultaneously embodies Harvey's toughness along with the gravitas and quiet desolation of a woman who had designs on freedom but found herself still operating both inside the intrigues of a corrupt society, as well as inside a prison of her own making a drug addiction. This part of her life isn't fully explored in the film and many of her motivations are left a mystery, communicated instead through some bizarre flourishes of 'Richard Kelly theology.' However, "Domino" preserves Harvey's mysticism and, in some ways, this is the best form of memorialization. The fictional Domino taunts the audience with the line, "I'll never tell you what it all meant." It's possible that these words may have come directly from the lady herself.
Copyright (c) 2005 by Lauren Simpson
- Oct 14, 2005