‘Yes! Grosvenor. Yes! Rowntree. Yes! Friday!
Ray Winstone is probably best known these days for appearing as a terrifying disembodied head at half time during the football. This is a shame for the fella as he has done some pretty sterling acting in his time, albeit not for a while. Sexy Beast is one of those films that has passed me by over the years and if you are a fan of middle age man walking round with their tops off, swearing at each other, then you are in for a real treat here…
Gal (Ray Winstone) is a retired safecracker who is perfectly content to lounge around his pool on his Spanish villa while his missus Deedee (Amanda Redman) makes him sandwiches. Fair play to the lad. This utopian existence is brought crashing down by the arrival of the unstable Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) who arrives from London with an offer and a very bad temper.
British gangster movies are normally a little less sophisticated than their American cousins but Sexy Beast is like an art film disguised as a gangster movie. Amidst gorgeous panning shots of the Spanish countryside and enough imagery and symbolism to write a whole thesis, director Jonathan Glazer does have the decency to include a few gangster movie tropes to keep the punters happy. The imposing mob boss, the beleaguered criminal returning for one last job, the trophy wife. What elevates Sexy Beast into the upper tier of British gangster flicks is the ambitious direction and the iconic performances.
Winstone is perfect as the unfortunate Gal but it is Ben Kingsley who really steals the show as Don Logan. Kingsley snaps and snarls his way through every scene with the intensity of a thousands suns. He is so intimidating in fact that I was actually a little scared of him myself. Despite the fact that he is a fictional character. The problem with this of course is that when ***SPOILERS*** Kingsley is killed half way through, the rest of the film kind of tails off. Even the presence of Ian McShane fails to replace Kingsley’s vehement ferocity.
Sexy Beast isn’t a classic but it is vital viewing for fans of the genre if only for Kingsley’s performance. The man is a whirlwind.