Movie Review by Susannah Macklin
Starring: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane
Director: Jonathan Glazer
The gangster related Britflicks continuing to be churned out by the UK film industry will by now have you doing one of two things – running for the cinema or running for cover. If it’s the latter – then SEXY BEAST should definitely be given the benefit of the doubt.
Gal (Ray Winstone) is a retired villain who’s given up a life of crime – for the life of Reilly in cockney miscreants Costa del Heaven-Spain. Things are going swimmingly until a boulder rolls from the surrounding hillside into his pool one afternoon, and notorious London gangster Don Logan decides to pay him a visit. Logan (played with not-to-be-missed, not-to-be-rivalled menace by Ghandi to Gangster Ben Kingsley) intends to get Gal out of retirement and onto a plane back to London for one last job.
Director Jonathan Glazer’s witty style, in this his first feature, doesn’t override the substance of Louis Mellis and David Scinto’s carefully observed script. The film plays like a stage production that’s made a lucid transition to the screen. This is by no means a criticism. Characters are thoughtfully carved out (Amanda Redman plays Gal’s devoted ageing moll with a believable mixture of soft centre and hard edge) and some moments of tension are orchestrated with Mike Leigh style observation. A soiree held at Gal’s villa in an attempt to appease sociopath Logan, plays like Ronnie Kray dropping into Abigail’s Party.
One of the many highlights of SEXY BEAST is an old school heist that relies on gall and gusto rather than the gunweilding geezers of this genres recent predecessors. What SEXY BEAST has is characters not caricatures.
SEXY BEAST also has an enjoyable and upbeat soundtrack that will have you tapping your feet in time to equal explosions of nerves and laughter.
Its surprising that a drop of originality can still be squeezed from this already well milked genre – but SEXY BEAST not only finds room in this niche market turned cliche – it totally blows the smoke off a certain pair of barrels.