Sexy Beast


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Sexy Beast
"A little odd and over-styled at times, but Sexy Beast is worth watching just for Ben Kingsley's terrific performance."

As the rather unusual title suggests, Sexy Beast isn't a conventional gangster yarn. For the first 10 minutes or so the camera has a perverted fixation with Ray Winstone's plump, tanned torso as he lounges, poolside, in Speedos. Then there's a moment which literally comes out of nowhere and seems to have no real point to it. Sure, it's all shot in an unusual way by Jonathan Glazer in his feature debut (he rocked us with the Guinness horse surfing ad), but the over-abundance of style may lose a viewer or two as they wait on something resembling a plot.

When it arrives, it concerns retired, former criminal Gary Dove (Winston), who has left England behind to live in Spain with his beloved wife Deedee (Amanda Redman). Unfortunately, his idyllic situation is ruined when unstable gang boss Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) turns up to persuade him into coming back for one last job.

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The plot wait is worth it for Ben Kingsley's mesmeric turn as goateed nutcase Don alone. Equal parts vile and magnetic, his lean skinhead is truly unhinged (check out his shaving convo...), ferociously spitting out the word "cahnt" as easily as most men breathe and genuinely unsettling us with feral unpredictability. Indeed, it's hard to believe Logan is played by the same man who portrayed Gandhi.

However, while his effectiveness is undoubtedly the movie's selling point, it's also its weakness. As good as Ray Winstone is throughout, the scenes without Kingsley pale in comparison, as a series of surreal unexplained subplots (visions of a Grinch-like beast, a strangely-loyal poolboy) don’t come close to the electric "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" Don-vs.-Gary test-of-wills. Indeed, aside from Ian McShane's crime boss Teddy Bass, nobody else makes a lasting impression.

Sexy Beast's hit-and-miss quality could have been avoided with a little restructuring. In the opening act we get the set-up showing how blissful Gary's life is, in the second we get Logan trying to persuade him to come home and in the third we get the job itself. Had Glazer just focussed on the middle portion, this might have been a five-star effort...

A little odd and over-styled at times, but Sexy Beast is worth watching just for Ben Kingsley's terrific performance.

Reviewed on: 16 Nov 2009
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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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Angus Wolfe Murray ***

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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