"Sexy Beast" constantly ups the ante in the suspenseful story of a retired bad guy whose past won't leave him alone.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
You know you're in for a treat from the very beginning of "Sexy Beast."
Gal (Ray Winstone), a slightly portly ex-villain with a thick working-class accent (British), lounges around on his bright white Costa del Sol sundeck in
his skimpy yellow Euro Speedos talking to himself about how "bloody 'ot" it is while The Stranglers' punk classic "Peaches" plays (loudly) on the
|Directed by: Jonathan Glazer.|
Written by: Louis Mellis, David Scinto, Andrew Jolley.
Cast: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White, Alvaro Monje, James Fox, Robert Atiko.
Related links: Official site | Official site (UK) | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
Suddenly a huge (fake) boulder careens down the Spanish hillside above Gal's opulent stucco villa and crashes into the ornately tiled pool, missing
Gal by inches and soaking him to the (very pink) skin.
Soon afterwards, Gal and his former porn-queen wife Deedee "dirty Deedee" are sitting around in a restaurant waiting for their friends Aitch and
Jackie to join them. (Gal decides he wants the calamari.) You can barely understand a word out of Aitch's mouth but Jackie looks worried. Very worried,
in fact. And within minutes the fear on her dining companions' faces is palpable.
Don Logan wants Gal to do a job. He's picking a team and he wants the very best. This Friday, at the Grosvenor Hotel. London. Gal wants none of it.
He's retired, remember? "I'm retired," he tells Jackie.
"Well, you can tell him yourself," says Jackie. "He's on his way over."
And Don doesn't take no for
an answer. Cut to a shot of a bald-headed Ben Kingsley striding ardently through a crowded airport and you just know there's gonna be trouble.
Superior writing, acting, and direction almost always define a great movie and they're all here in "Sexy Beast." Screenwriters Louis Mellis and David
Scinto create a battle of wills and words that gives the likes of David Mamet and Steven Berkoff a run for their money, and the film veers from comedy to
drama and back again without skipping a beat.
Certainly Kingsley is formidable (in a role the Gandhi man appears to relish), but Winstone is equal to him in a less flamboyant performance.
Amanda Redman (as Deedee) also deserves recognition; she reacts a lot with her eyes, especially in the presence of Kingsley's threatening thug, but
her performance is beautifully subtle . . . and extremely effective. Ian McShane provides additional malevolence in the brooding black-attired form of arch-villain Teddy Bass.
First-time feature director Jonathan Glazer (who earned his stripes shooting videos for Massive Attack and Radiohead) does an amazing job of
keeping everything in perspective while giving the film his own personal imprint (that opening, for example). What makes "Sexy Beast" so rewarding is
that it constantly ups the ante, never once settling for the conventional, never missing an opportunity to surprise or excite. The film has its violent
moments, of course, a lot of them verbal (Don Logan is a walking, talking molotov cocktail of viciousness and slurs), but "Sexy Beast" is more likely to
be remembered for its humor and get this as a portrait of a man (Gal) truly, truly in love with his wife.
And when was the last time you saw that portrayed so convincingly on screen?
|AUGUST 17, 2001|
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