SEXY BEAST
(****)-LARRY EVANS

"...performances in the film are uniformly excellent."

Yes! Indeed for Kingsley and this Crime Thriller

(071301) Sexy Beast reminds most about the glory days of British cinema, the era of 'Get Carter', 'Alfie' and the film this has a lot in common with, 'The Long Good Friday'. Portly Ray Winstone plays Gal Dove, a retired criminal living in Spain with his ex-porn star wife and some friends from the old country. We see the life he's living in the opening scene with him lounging around his pool while the houseboy cleans up. Dove lies there baking in the sun is his yellow bathing suit thinking about how much good his life is. The boy's not doing something right so Dove stands up to show him how it should be done. He glances at the pattern at the bottom of the pool and then a big boulder comes down off the mountain, over his head and into the pool severing the twin heart pattern below. That boulder is symbolic for the trouble about to enter Dove's life.

James Fox plays a member of an exclusive club who also owns a bank that cannot be robbed; Ian McShane plays the crime boss who would love to prove him wrong. In order to do this McShane needs a team so he sends Don (Ben Kingsley) Logan down to Spain to bring back Dove. Dove says no but no one tells Don Logan no.

Ben Kingsley plays Don Logan as a tightly wrapped piece of metal wrapped in barbed wire. His only concern is what he wants, i.e., Dove's participation, another man's wife, the quality of language, and the right to smoke on an airplane. Everyone is scared of him and he could care less. He sits upright, walks with a purpose and watches all. The war of wills between Logan and Dove is the best part of Beast because it seems to be going on even when it is not. We, as an audience know that Dove is going to do the job because Logan will have it no other way.

The film kicks into a higher level in London because we wonder what has happened to a member of the cast. We witness something that is left open but the deep down we know someone is dead back in Spain. The actual robbery is done in a casual but creative way. We see how the bank can be broken fairly early in the film but director Glasner revisits the scene to show us. The whereabouts of Kingsley and Dove's wife are very important to Dove's survival. The moments surrounding his fate after the job is done are some of the tensest moments seen this year. And in the end, Don Logan gets his way and his ultimate reward.
The one element in Beast that doesn't work as well as the rest of the film is the decision to introduce a dream character into the film. From time to time Dove dreams of a six-foot blue furred beast that shows him his fate but it just confused most of the audience whenever it appeared.

The performances in the film are uniformly excellent. Winstone is a Jackie Gleason lookalike who looks pleasant on the outside but seethes inside. He enjoys his new life and all it's trappings and will do anything to keep it. Kingsley (and the film) angles for Academy consideration as the man who doesn't even respect the sanctity of a man's carpeted bathroom floor. Ian McShane has had a long career. He began playing pretty boy types but as he has gotten older his choice of roles changed. He has always had hooded eyes but with the passage of time those eyes make him look more sinister than charming. The charming part of his personality is apparent in the beginning of the film but the car ride he takes with Winstone shows casual cruelty. His final line is a classic.

Director Jonathan Glasner began as a music video director but here he avoids the mistakes most novices make. We never learn exactly who the sexy beast of the title is but the ride is so entertaining we forgive the screenwriters.
 

Directed by:    Jonathan Glazer
Written by:    Screenplay by Louis Mellis and David Scinto
Starring:    Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane
Released:    07/06/01 (USA)
Length:    88 minutes
Rating:    Rated R for pervasive language, strong violence
 and some sexuality

SEXY BEAST   2001 Fox Searchlight Pictures..
All Rights Reserved.

Review 2023 Alternate Reality, Inc.

 
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