Sexy Beast

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

As a gangster movie, Sexy Beast is quirky. As a love story, it is surprising. As a British take on Quentin Tarantino, it has its moments.

Gal (Ray Winstone) is retired from villainy, living the lazy life in a villa in Spain with his ex-porn star wife, Deedee (Amanda Redman), when Logan (Ben Kingsley) turns up to recruit him for a bank job in London. He has every intention of refusing, except that Logan is not a man to cross, being pathologically unhinged.

The title suggests a laddish romp in sunny climes. Nothing could be further from the truth. These East End crooks are either pussy cats or beyond the Krays. Logan's a nutter, Gal is buttery and Teddy Bass (Ian McShane), the boss of bosses, has a vicious edge to his paranoia.

The director, Jonathan Glazer, in his debut feature film, indulges tricksy flashbacks and a dream sequence too far. His background in commercials and pop videos begins to show after a while. The opening section at the villa is beautifully handled. The later sequences in London are less convincing.

Kingsley gives a chilling performance. If Logan existed in life, no one would work for him. Such humourless rage is the stuff of dictators, not B-list hoodlums.

Redman has warmth and sexuality to burn. Deedee and Gal's marriage is unfashionably strong, made real by fine naturalistic acting. Winstone plays soft, for a change, not that Gal is a push over. He just knows the difference between love and a good time. And Winstone portrays him with a surfeit of sensitivity, a long way from the wife-beater in Nil By Mouth.

Reviewed on: 24 Jan 2001
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Sexy Beast packshot
A gangster finds his retirement in Spain cut short when a brutal bloke from the past comes to call.
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Stephen Carty ***

Director: Jonathan Glazer

Writer: Louis Mellis, David Scinto

Starring: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White, James Fox

Year: 2000

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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