A retired professional criminal gets word of a visit from an unsavory old associate who's offering him a new job, and doesn't take no for an answer. When I rented this from Blockbuster Video back in 2001, I was surprised by how cool this movie was. The acting, the tension, the music, the style, and most importantly, the humor. This is a dark comedy that hit me on many levels. I find myself laughing every minute or so at its quirky rhythms during viewings.
In the past, some people (critics) have said that despite its wonderful performances, Sexy Beast has no one to truly root for. I strongly disagree. At first glance, I could see how some would feel that way. But after multiple viewings (I had to buy it), I noticed that there were layers to this film. This is more than just a dark comedy; It's also a psychological thriller and a romance. And the one who made me realize that, was Ray Winstone (Beowulf 2007).
Sure everybody praises the "tour-de-force" performance of Ben Kingsley (Schindler's List) and rightly so, but I put it to you to pay closer attention to Winstone. There's an emphasis on two things in Sexy Beast; Which is fear, and the eyes. The fear in Winstone's eyes when he hears of Kingsley's visit, is palpable. He makes you see and feel that he's got something to lose. He loves his wife (British television actor Amanda Redman) unconditionally, and not even Kingsley's spouting bile about her faulty past can sway him.
Redman and Winstone are perfect for each other's damaged lives, and that kind of romance feels more real. Regardless, Kingsley's gonna drop a wrecking ball on Winstone's peaceful retirement. When an actor can intimidate the viewer as well as his costars, you know he's something special. Like with Daniel Day-Lewis' Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, and Jack Nicholson's Colonel Jessup in A few Good Men, Ben Kingsley's Don Logan is a ferocious character that you will never forget. On the flip-side of Logan's uncontrollable rage, is the matured calm of his boss Teddy Bass, played by Ian McShane (Deadwood). Instead of flipping his lid at every inconvenience like Kingsley does, McShane keeps his cool like a shark that's patiently waiting for the most opportune moment to tear its victim to shreds. And like a shark, McShane's eyes are cold and dead in contrast to Winstone's.
Highs- The opening boulder scene, Logan's airplane ordeal, and the tension inducing Rabbit Man nightmares.
Lows- Short eighty-eight minute run time gives no time to enjoy the scenery, and the slight out of order storytelling might have been even better if the ending was swapped with the beginning.
Sexy Beast ranks up there with Snatch and In Bruges as my favorite British comedies. It's just so funny and intense that I occasionally catch myself quoting lines from the dialogue and intro song "Peaches" (by The Stranglers). Besides, a man calling another man a "cunt" is always hilarious. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Rating- 8 out of 10
Sexy Beast (2000)
R | 1h 29min | Crime, Thriller | 13 July 2001 (USA)
Brutal gangster Don Logan recruits "retired" safecracker Gal for one last job, but it goes badly for both of them.
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Writers: Louis Mellis, David Scinto
Stars: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane