Gal (Ray Winstone), an old time ex convict, is now retired. All he does is sweat by the pool, enjoy his form porn star wife Deedee (Amanda Redman), and share drinks with a couple of good friends. The setting is Spain, the sun is hot, and life is free of trouble... until, of course, one day when the peace must be disturbed -- and it is, by a guy named Don Logan. Presumably the titular sexy beast, Don (Ben Kingsley) appears on the scene and hell breaks loose as Gal gets back into his life of crime.
If you remember Kingsley's roles in Gandhi, Death and the Maiden, or Schindler's List, you'll definitely be surprised. His Don Logan, with bald head, goatee, and wiry physique resembles a cobra when he is silent and a crazed cockroach when he speaks. Don's years in organized crime have destroyed anything human he might have once had; he is now spooky, profane, socially maladroit, and extremely annoying.
And he's anything but sexy. In one scene, Don furiously leaves the airplane after refusing to extinguish his cigarette. Detained by Spanish officials, he concocts a story of a sexual assault by a steward -- the most darkly humored and misbegotten story of sexual harassment one could conceive of.
As an actor, Kingsley has achieved what was required of his beastly Don: You want to strangle him when he spits out profanities and run away when he moves toward you. The rest of the characters -- Gal (as played by Winstone, who has delivered strong, nuanced performances in Nil By Mouth and The War Zone), his wife, their friend Aitch (Cavan Kendall), and the ominous mob boss Teddy Bass (Ian McShane) -- are all second-hand parodies of cinematic stereotypes. The film tries to convey Gal's emotional turmoil in escaping his newfound life of crime, but it is really only able to rise to B-movie standards.
Sexy Beast marks the directorial debut of award-winning commercial and music video director Jonathan Glazer. And I would sincerely hope that after this film tanks, Glazer will be content, just like Gal at the Spanish villa, to go back to more familiar terrain. Sexy Beast, conceived as a black comedy/thriller and shot as a commercial, occasionally drips with irony and sometimes gives you pause, not knowing whether to wince or laugh. But mostly it just makes you shrug. Well, perhaps that was the idea.
Beast of burden.
Run time: 89 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th January 2001
Box Office USA: $6.0M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Kanzaman, Filmfour, Recorded Picture Company (RPC)
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 111 Rotten: 18
IMDB: 7.3 / 10
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Producer: Jeremy Thomas
Starring: Ray Winstone as Gary „Gal“ Dove, Ben Kingsley as Don Logan, Ian McShane as Teddy Bass, Amanda Redman as Deedee Dove, James Fox as Harry, Cavan Kendall as Aitch, Julianne White as Jackie, Álvaro Monje as Enrique
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