Actor Spotlight: Sexy Beast
I was perplexed by this film before watching it. Nothing major. Someone had once said to me that it was a complex, hard to follow, puzzle of a film. Upon watching the movie, I had a different experience. I did have to turn on the subtitles since the actors were so cockney it was a bit hard to follow, but nothing too complex. I didn’t find it really complex at all, though there was one mystery that eluded me the entire time. Who is the Sexy Beast of the title?
The final film in our Ben Kingsley spotlight, Sexy Beast, is the story of a retired bank robber by the name of Gal, played by Ray Winstone. Gal is married to an ex-pornstar named Dee Dee who is very ably played by Amanda Redman. One day Don Logan, played by Kingsley, shows up on Gal’s doorstep looking to recruit him for a bank job, despite his lack of interest. Logan, a violent enforcer, has difficulty taking no for an answer.
Director Jonathan Glazer, director of the forthcoming Under the Skin, takes his experiences in the music video industry and creates a near 90 minute music video, replete with story and action. Like directors Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry, Glazer has an eye for the quick cut scenes and the overlapping moments that are intercut into the film to give it a slightly edgier look. Here it is done masterfully, whereas many directors still struggle to make these concepts work in their films.
The story is not an uncommon one, but still manages to tread new ground none the less. A perfect mix of all things gangster and everyday life. With a run time of 89 minutes there is not a single wasted moment as we are thrust into the meat of the story. Events transpire quickly, and even flash before your eyes with little notice or attention given. While not complex or hard to follow, it does pay to keep your eyes peeled at all times. The only perplexing component of the film, and it is brief, is a dream sequence that attempts to serve as an allegory for a coming menace, but is really superfluous to the film as a whole.
Kingsley, the winner of several awards for his portrayal of Logan, was phenomenal in his role. Playing a sociopathic, man-child, with a very scary edge to him, Kingsley makes a massive departure from the roles he is typically associated with. Obviously a sick man, not in the “that guy is sick in the head” way, but rather the “truly on the edge of schizophrenia”, Logan is so unpredictably scary that he becomes very fun to watch. Without the acting acumen of a Sir Ben Kingsley, a role such as this would prove to be fairly immemorable.
Overall the film is a fun ride, with overtones similar to that of other great British gangster films like, The Long Good Friday and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Winstone, Redman, and Kingsley are brilliant in their depictions and Glazer manages to create a beautifully frenetic experience. For first time viewers: expect more beastly than sexy…in a good way.