Made in: Great Britain
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, Julianne White, Cavan Kendall, James Fox
Synopsis: Gary "Gal" Dove (Ray Winstone) is a retired English gangster living in an isolated hacienda in Spain. He now enjoys an easy life with wife Dee Dee (Amanda Redman), and often yuks it up with his pal Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and his wife Jackie (Julianne White).
But back in London, Gal's old boss Terry (Ian McShane) wants to pull off a major bank heist and needs a few guys he can really count on. He sends Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) to Spain in hopes of convincing their old associate Gal to help carry out the job.
Logan is a raving sociopath with a hot temper and a mouth so foul he makes Eddie Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop look like Mother Teresa. And when Gal refuses to participate in the heist, Logan has a rather difficult time taking "no" for an answer.
The Good: The actors are good, the story's pretty coherent, and at around 89 minutes, this movie is thankfully short.
The Bad: I really don't understand what it was about this film that got it nominated for an Oscar. Sexy Beast consists mainly of Ben Kingsley running around screaming at poor Ray Winstone, whose character is in slightly better shape than Winnie the Pooh.
Kingsley's character can't seem to get any of his points across without using the words f*ck and c*nt every few seconds, and that gets old after a while.
Although Ben Kingsley is, without a doubt, a fine actor, the raving lunatic thing just doesn't suit him. He's perfectly capable of playing villains, and I think interpreting the role as a quiet menace, as he did in the film Sneakers, would have worked much better here.
As a hot tempered sociopath, Kingsley is too disciplined and controlled. In other words, it just looks like he's acting.
To remind you that this is an independent film, Sexy Beast contains other artsy moments that include unconventional camera movements and surreal dream sequences.
And to remind you that you're supposed to be shocked, director Jonathan Glazer inserts some explicit sex, references to porn, and scenes of brutal beatings that, I guess, are supposed to be poignant. Oh, and there's some homosexuality thrown in to make double sure that what you're seeing is, without question, supposed to be shocking.
Who would like this movie: Sexy Beast is one of those foreign films that might turn off a lot of American viewers.
Although the actors are very good and there are moments when the psychology of Ben Kingsley's character adds some depth, this movie is self-conscious at best, and pretentiously in-your-face at worst. Too loud. Too foul. And that hairy devil-bunny thing didn't make too much sense either. I sure hope that wasn't supposed to be the "sexy beast."
(2 stars out of 4)
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