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Sexy Beast

April 3, 2014

Sexy Beast (2000)
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Actors: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane

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Synopsis: Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) is a retired British gangster, living out a low-key existence in sunny Spain with his wife. The psychotic Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) is sent to bring Gal back to London for a daring heist, but the clash between Gal’s wish to be left alone and Don’s manic fervour leads to a tense showdown between the pair.

Review: In anticipation of the much trumpeted Under the Skin, I decided to revisit Jonathan Glazer’s first feature film, Sexy Beast, to get myself in the mood for the main event.

In many respects, Sexy Beast is quite a slippery film. It is very slight, and probably, if it had run any longer than its breezy 85 minutes, one senses Glazer’s glitzy and image-centric approach to storytelling might have begun to crack at the seams. Instead, what we have here is almost an extended short film par excellence, so we’re permitted to luxuriate in Glazer’s skills – he’s a truly expert manufacturer of ambiences. The film features a riotous sense of humour, has a plausible undertow of pathos for its central character, Gal, and gains great mileage out of its contrast between the crisp open spaces and baking air of Spain, to the dank, claustrophobic climes of London.

Of course, let’s not overlook probably the best thing about Sexy Beast, and that is Ben Kingsley’s turn as schizophrenic psycho, Don Logan. Kingsley utterly commits to his characterisation and delivers a bravura performance, both from the inside and outside: from the implacable stiffness of the man’s posture, to his monotonic, nasal cockney twang as he lingers over his dark Ls, to the depraved, violent, misogynistic rage which betrays all his psychoses. (April 2013)

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