← Back to Reviews

Sexy Beast

The crime drama and the black comedy blend to startling effect in a powerhouse sleeper from 2000 called Sexy Beast, which features stylish direction, some terrific performances, and a squirm-worthy serving of unbearable tension.

Gal is a retired safecracker who is living the high life in a Spanish Villa with his ex-porn star girl friend DeeDee and their best friends Aitch and Jackie. Their idyllic existence is shattered by the arrival of an unhinged former business associate of Gal's named Don Logan who has arrived to convince Gal to do one more job, a job that becomes a complicated mess long before its completion.

Director Jonathan Glazer (Birth) and screenwriters Louis Mellis and David Scinto must be credited for bringing a fresh coat of paint to the former-criminal-being-lured-back-to-crime story by concentrating the majority of the story on the actual lure and the consequences of the job than the actual job itself.

The story opens with a leisurely pacing which initially confuses, but what the filmmakers are doing here is clearly establishing how happy Gal is with his life in retirement and how, unlike so many movie characters in similar situations, has absolutely no desire to return to his old life. Gal's number one priority upon our first meeting with him is getting the perfect tan and its importance to him is so clear, that it's really hard to determine what his former profession might have been, but from the moment he learns of Logan's arrival, this blissful existence turns to one of tension and fear.

The initial confrontation between Gal and Logan is fascinating because no matter how many times Gal says he is not interested, Logan insists that he is. Through his attitude, we can tell that Logan has the juice behind him to drag Gal out of the villa and make him do whatever he wants, but for some reason, it seems vital to Logan that Gal say that he wants to do this...Logan not only will not take no for an answer, but insists on a yes and even though he never gets it, we know he's in when he says goodbye to DeeDee and tells his young pool boy to stay away from the house for awhile.

Another fascinating aspect of this story that comes shining through, primarily through Grazer's direction, is establishing the fear that Gal has about what he's being drawn into, but does his best to conceal his fear from DeeDee and Logan, but every moment in the film where he's alone, the fear comes out in the form of uncontrollable sweat and shakes that provide an additional layer of tension for the viewer.

Glazer employs some dizzying camera work and gets grand assists from his cinematographer and film editor. He also gets dazzling performances from Ray Winstone as Gal, Ben Kingsley, in a dangerous and funny turn as Don Logan, which earned him an Oscar nomination. His scenes on the airplane and with airline security I think probably cinched the nomination for him. Also loved Ian McShane as Logan's boss. A funky music score frames this deliciously intense story that is not for all tastes, though fans of the work of Guy Ritchie will definitely have a head start here.