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Channel Four Films
Official Site
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Producer: Jeremy Thomas
Written by: Louis Mellis, David Scinto
Cast: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White

Rating: out of 5

With all the new stylized crime/gangster movies coming out of Britain, style alone may not be worth too much. But style in service of an original story and fascinating characters… now that’s worthy. And SEXY BEAST is certainly worthy.

The first film from commercial and music video veteran Jonathan Glazer, SEXY BEAST is a pleasurable, genre-defying journey through the sometimes unbelievably ridiculous and sometimes ultraviolent predicament of retired gangster Gary "Gal" Dove (Winstone). The film opens with Gal sun-bathing pool-side against the washed-out white deck of his Spanish seaside villa with only his yellow Speedos providing any contrast; he seems happy, content, and yeah, sexy. But paradise is soon lost when prophetically a gigantic boulder from the hills above his home comes crashing into his pool nearly missing him. Soon after Don Logan (Kingsley) arrives on the scene for seemingly no reason other than to torment Gal, his wife and his friends. But Don's intentions are soon revealed; he has been sent from London by a bigger gangster—Teddy Bass (McShane) to convince Gal to return home to help his old friends pull a bank job.

Gal tries to respectfully decline the offer, but Don, being the determined and psychotic man that he is, refuses to take no for an answer. Gal and Don have their final battle, in a both funny and frightening scene consisting solely of Don screaming "do it, do it, do it" and Gal calmly and coolly trying to say no. Don gives up and heads to the airport only to return later that day to Gal’s home, disrupting his life once again. Without giving too much away, Gal, in order to save his own skin and his paradise, takes the job and leaves for London.

Once in London, the film seems to lose its edge. Gal works the bank job with his old friends, but always seems distant and frightened. The visuals and sound elements at this point seem too haphazard and contrived, whereas before they matched character emotion and narrative mood perfectly. Also, the narrative doesn't flow as smoothly in London as it did in Spain. Too much takes place too quickly, leaving too many questions unanswered and tying up the central conflict too easily.

However, it is not, I feel, altogether fair to criticize such an unexpectedly pleasurable and welcome addition to the genre updates coming out of Britain because, ultimately, it is the attention and focus on characters (most specifically Ben Kingsley’s Don) that makes SEXY BEAST such an exhilarating movie.

Eric Vanstrom

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Its worth a full-price ticket.

Its worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

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