Gary is a former gangster who has made a modest amount of money from his criminal career. Happy to put his life of crime behind him, he has retired with his wife Deedee to the sunny bliss of rural Spain, where he lives an idyllic life with his family and a few close friends. But Gary's contentment is ruptured by an unwelcome visitor from his past. Don.
But quite frankly your attitude appalls me. It's not what you're saying. It's all this stuff you're not saying. Insinnuendos. Sexy Beast is directed by Jonathan Glazer and written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto. It stars Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, James Fox and Julianne White. Music is by Roque Baños and cinematography by Ivan Bird. Retired to the Costa del Chill Out, retired thief Gary 'Gal' Dove (Winstone) finds his tranquil existence shattered when menacing gangster Don Logan (Kingsley) arrives on the scene demanding Gal goes back to London to do another job. 2000 saw a slew of British gangster films released. The success of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels opened the door for film makers keen to do their bit for Brit Grit. As is always the way, quality varies, but the class of 2000 had a healthy rate of good 'uns, of which Sexy Beast is a proud operator. The story is very thin, very film noir, an ex bad boy doing one last job that risks everything he has settled down for, but there's a panache to how the makers construct the tale. It helps that it's boosted by a ferocious performance from Kingsley, who is given licence to unleash his dark half, as he swears, stares, gets violent and has a general disregard for anyone but himself. Director Glazer, in what was his film after breaking out from advertisements and music videos, shows a keen eye for stylist visuals and attention grabbing scenes. He opens with an outrageous sequence of Gal sun bathing by his pool, the sun burning down, and then a giant boulder thunders into view and land in the pool! All set to the sound of The Stranglers single Peaches. Quite a way to announce yourself in film. The first half of film is the best, set at Gal's Spanish villa, Glazer neatly frames the characters (Gal lives with his wife and his two friends from England live nearby) as they bicker and cower in the shadow of Logan, who wouldn't be beyond sending them all to hell if he doesn't get his way. It's sweaty and tense, a coiled spring like atmosphere tells us something is going to give - and it does. The second half of the piece is not so tense or thrilling, though the robbery has a whiff of genius about it, but the pay off works well because Gal has earned our respect, as has his fellow sun seekers. Sexy Beast is not just sexy (tongue in cheeks for the makers), it's beefy and brutal, but also strangely beautiful as well. Nice. 8/10
The other day, my lady Tammy and I watched director Glazer's recent 'Under the Skin' and loved its otherworldly wackiness and ambience, and as I had his first two films on DVD, we decided that at the very least, this first one demanded immediate investigation. I've adored Ray Winstone's work since his early days working in the films of Sir Alan Clarke, and Ben Kingsley's always a treat. Watching the characters brought back such awesome memories of my teenage days, travelling throughout England and continental Europe in December, 1986, as well. We can't wait to hopefully check out 'Birth' later this week...This was definitely one of the best and most original British gangster movies since the likes of 'The Long Good Friday' and 'Mona Lisa' from that era...