Sexy Beast

"Very Good"

Sexy Beast Review


Director Jonathan Glazer does such a spectacular job of drawing the audience into the world he creates in the edgy, oily and feral British crime thriller "Sexy Beast" that within moments of its opening -- poolside at a retired bank robber's modest desert villa on the Spanish Costa del Sol -- you may actually start fanning yourself from the 100-degree weather on screen.

It's the kind of vicarious reaction felt over and over again through the course of the movie. You truly understand the intense devotion between the ex-con Gary "Gal" Dove (played by the awesome Ray Winstone) and his aging ex-porn queen wife (Amanda Redman). You savor Gal's utterly relaxed bliss at finally living in a world far, far away from his former life. You feel how much he enjoys the company of pal and former associate Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and his wife (Julianne White), who live near by and often come over for barbecue.

But more than anything, you feel in your bones how completely terrified every last one of them is of Don Logan.

Don was Gal's gangland nemesis before he hung up his guns. Don is one intimidating, scowling, humorless, vicious, dangerous man to cross. Nobody screws with Don, that much is clear even before he appears on screen. Nobody says no to Don, either. But Gal's going to try, because Don has just arrived, uninvited, to his idyllic new home to tell Gal his services are required for one more big heist.

Don is played by the fantastically versatile Ben Kingsley in an ominous and formidable performance that will make you sweat bullets, just like Gal, and be very glad you're on the other side of the movie screen, at a safe distance. Even though his bald sconce and Luciferian goatee make him seem truly sinister, he isn't physically threatening so much as he is a psychological force of nature. When he's in the room, Gal, Aitch and wives go silent, cold and nervous. When Don says, "Where there's a will, there's a way," it sounds like a threat. And when Gal does find the mettle to decline the job, Don decides to stay for a few days, wearing him down with vicious, vehement browbeating and verbal abuse.

The first half of "Sexy Beast" is almost entirely dialogue and savage head games, offset by acute touches of dark humor (Don is something of a malapropist) and Glazer's sun-drenched and lively, yet distinctively film noir photography.

Surprisingly tan and blonde, the middle-aged and normally ruddy Winstone ("The War Zone," "Nil By Mouth") physically embodies Gal's vacillating confidence and flagging determination not to let Don get the better of him. His consternation comes out even more in surreal (OK, downright weird) dream sequences in which he's stalked by a monstrous jackrabbit with an Uzi.

But in the end, for reasons I can't go into without giving away too much, Gal ends up in London after all, helping break into a bank's safe deposit vault by jackhammering underwater through the wall of a steam bath next door.

Glazer's photography becomes dark blue and moody in this second half of the film, reflecting Gal's agitated disposition, which likely has something to do with Don's conspicuous failure to return from Spain. "He phoned me from Heathrow to say he got home safe," Gal keeps telling ring leader Teddy Bass (Ian McShane) -- a ruthless, heavy-eyed criminal type almost as menacing as Don -- who doesn't buy Gal's explanation for a minute.

One of the very few problems with "Sexy Beast" is the lack of psychological backstory to explain why Gal's nerves get so easily rattled. When Don's around, it's obvious. Kingsley is so balefully ferocious in the role that even a static shot of him lounging in a patio chair has a menacing air about it. But this guy is a successful career criminal. How did he get so apprehensive that he can't even lie convincingly about Don's absence?

Another problem for American audiences may be adjusting to the thick Cockney accents sported by the primary characters. But even if you don't catch every word, Kingsley and Winstone are is such rare form that the substance of their conversations are unmistakable.

Some may lump this movie into the Guy Ritchie subgenre of high-octane British gangster capers ("Snatch," "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels"), but "Sexy Beast" is a much more eloquent and exacting film in which the style is only a function of the substance -- that being the impact of two incredible actors burrowing under the skin of their characters as their characters burrow under each other's skin.



Sexy Beast

Facts and Figures

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th January 2001

Box Office USA: $6.0M

Budget: $5M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Kanzaman, Filmfour, Recorded Picture Company (RPC)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 111 Rotten: 18

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Gary „Gal“ Dove, as Don Logan, as Teddy Bass, as Deedee Dove, as Harry, as Aitch, as Jackie, as Enrique

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.