sexy beast

Sexy Beast


Jonathan Glazer




United Kingdom

Kingsley rules

By Michael Roberts

"Somewhere in your career, your work changes. It becomes less anal, less careful and more spontaneous, more to do with the information that your soul carries."
~ Ben Kingsley

Sexy Beast is a turbocharged star turn from Ben Kingsley, who delivered in his characterisation of sociopath criminal Don Logan a potent 'anti-Ghandi' and one of the more memorable British screen gangsters of all time. Jonathan Glazer brought an MTV generation background in making commercials to the direction for his energetic and fluid examination of a man trying to escape his past. Ray Winstone had the unenviable task of having to match Kingsley and resolutely holds his own with a character that could easily have been Jack Carter's (Get Carter) wayward son who'd gone to live in Spain. Working from a taut script co-written by Scottish actor Louis Mellis the story brings alive with palpable dread the lingering, nasty aftertaste of London gangster-ism culture and it's pervasive tentacles.

Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) is a man with a past and that past comes crashing into his present in the shape of former colleague Don Logan (Ben Kingsley). Sunning himself on the Costa Del Sol with his beloved wife Dee Dee (Amanda Redman), and well away from the grime of gloomy England, Gal enjoys time with old friend Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and his wife Jackie (Julianne White), both having also escaped the London underworld. Don calls with an offer for Gal to participate in a heist back in London, but Gal declines saying he's retired. Don flies to Spain to convince Gal otherwise, and the Four Spanish residents are traumatised by his presence as he brutally inserts himself into their cozy existence. Gal goes to London to do the job but can't shake the suspicions of crime boss Teddy (Ian McShane) who has lost contact with Don.

Gal's peril is foreshadowed in the opening scene, a fat and content Gal baking himself to a cinder in the burning sun on his pool deck, "heat, like a sauna, ridiculous, fantastic", he thinks to himself and a large boulder rolls down the hill and barely misses him before setting onto the bottom of his pool. Logan by contrast is a lean and taut piece of work, wound so tight he might just uncoil at any moment and cause significant damage to those around him. The doomsday mood the mere mention of his name brings on indicates a ferocious and unyielding monster is approaching. Gal's nightmares on the eve of Don's arrival presage a vicious confrontation where the vituperative Don blocks the reasonable Gal at every turn. Don is disgusted by the easy life that has fattened up Gal and his ex-porn star wife Dee Dee, and every opportunity he can take to insult her in front of Gal he takes. Don also pours scorn on Aitch, letting him know he'd enjoyed a prior sexual liaison with Jackie. Don is a walking nightmare, their past personified and haunting them like a demon.

Glazer builds the tension well, and handles the silences and cold stares with authority, milking every drop from the uncomfortable situations. He also handles the ingenious heist scene in London very well, providing a nice emotional balance to the film and giving some relief from Kingsley's dominating presence. Very few actors could pull off the Logan role without looking slightly hysterical, but Kingsley exerts such weight and force that in his hands it simply becomes an inevitable and irrefutable force of nature. The nuances are superb, the way he carries his jacket, the way he sits on a sofa, all add up to a remarkable and convincing achievement. Winstone, capable of fireworks himself, bites his tongue and plays the 'straight' role to perfection, and invests his Gal with a lot of humanity, which lies at the heart of his love for his wife. Ian McShane is excellent as the London crime boss, and makes the most of the very tense scenes he shares with Winstone, effectively covering Kingsley's dramatic purpose when he's absent. The women deliver rounded and sympathetic performances, never letting us forget that there are people under the caked on ex-showgirl style make up.

Glazer gently parodies the English obsession with the Spanish sun, and makes great use of the heat as a dramatic ally and of the picturesque location that the superannuated gangsters so crave. Sexy Beast is a fine piece of entertainment, unpretentious and engaging, and a reminder that Brit's do gangsters far too infrequently when they do them this well. If for no other reason, this film will enjoy a cult following as a record of Kingsley's astonishing transformation into a sick and violent psycho, though it's unlikely to share a double DVD release with Ghandi anytime soon. Love it.


sexy 1 sexy 2 sexy 3 sexy 4 sexy 5 sexy 6