Sexy Beast Review
The strangely titled Sexy Beast centers on a husband's will to keep his promise to his wife, even though neither of the major characters is sexually attractive. The film, which marks British filmmaker Jonathan Glazer's feature film debut, is primarily a crime movie; however, the most significant scenes occur before the crime occurs.
The first two-thirds of this film is a struggle of will between mob boss Don (Ben Kingsley), who wants to be resigned criminal Gary, and Gary, who desires to return to work with him on one more mission. Gary is more straightforward and sometimes almost submissive than Don, who is harsh and unyielding.
Kingsley and Winstone provide strong performances, and their sometimes ferocious, constantly explosive back-and-forth is a joy. Winstone delivers another in a long series of powerful performances; his tanned, plump body figure is the image of a guy who has softened in the lap of wealth.
Despite how brilliant he is, Kingsley consistently outperforms him in this part by putting in a level of enthusiasm that is unusual for the often sedate actor. Unfortunately, there is a period during which this is true, about 20 minutes because Kingsley is so captivating that the film loses when he isn't on screen.
The characters that raise the stakes in the story, such as Teddy Bass, the criminal leader, and Gary's wife, Deedee (Amanda Redman), enhance the storyline. When Don threatens or bullies him, Gary can handle it, but Gary cannot when his wife is the target. Comedy effectively lightens the stress to prevent it from becoming too somber.
Although seeing Sexy Beast is enjoyable primarily for the performances of Winstone and (particularly) Kingsley, Glazer exhibits a vibrant visual aesthetic that occasionally surprises and satisfies. Sexy Beast ranges from determined to playful. A boulder and a swimming pool are featured in a magnificent moment that must be seen to be believed early on in action.
Like modern movies like The Limey and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Sexy Beast offers a thrilling 90 minutes. (The British appear to enjoy these films, which explains why Tarantino is well-regarded in that country.) This film was a staple on the festival circuit before it was released in theaters in the United States. It was presented at two illustrious, prestigious gatherings: the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. The positive reviews that Glazer's film garnered in both locations indicate that it was likely to perform well during its brief run in the United States.
The main character of SEXY BEAST is the elderly British criminal and safe cracker Gal (Ray Winstone), whose peaceful life in Spain gets disrupted when he accepts an invitation to participate in a crime.
Jonathan Glazer's first film is a British gangster drama with some strange touches, which may have been partly influenced by the director's previous experience with high-end advertising campaigns. Two well-known actors cast against type further set Sexy Beast apart as a crime thriller with a twist. Gal, played by Winstone, is a career criminal whose anger and appearance have softened with age. Ben Kingsley, in contrast, pursues his supporting part with the same mighty zeal with which our wildcard Don launches himself at anyone and everything that stands in his path.
Sexy Beast is always entertaining because of its sunny location and performances. The film's basis could be more apparent in certain sections, and the supporting cast only ever appears in the background of shots and the story, despite Glazer's aesthetic and the performers' abilities. It is a movie constantly torn between two universes, much like its antihero. However, it does it with such swagger that it is difficult to understand its malicious activities.
Rating: 4.1 Stars
Awards and Nomination