Film Scouts Reviews

"Sexy Beast"

by Jonathan Robert Muirhead

With Gary Dove's (Ray Winstone) gravelly voiceover telling us that "this is the life", it begins as it means to go on, as he reclines by his pool in Spain. He's an ex-gangster, who's come here to start a life of luxury. And this new life's going fine, until psycho Don Logan (Ben Kingsley, convincingly menacing) turns up, wanting Gary for "one last job" and he won't take no for an answer.

As the camera homes in on Logan's sharp features and sudden violence, Winstone gives an excellent portrayal of fearful prey, which director Jonathan Glazer conveys brilliantly with a sequence featuring Dove as a hunted animal. The job is for gang boss Teddy Bass (Ian McShane, clearly having a ball) and is almost an afterthought to Dove and Logan's duel of wills, leaving plenty of room for the superb robbery sequence, which involves drilling through the bottom of a swimming pool to get to the safe in the bank next door.

Glazer's assured control of his material stops this being just another gangster film. Winstone and Kingsley sink their teethe into their characters as the drama around them unfolds. The script is refreshingly free of clichés, with Dove's sweaty tension and Logan's "Taxi Driver"-esque bathroom mirror monologues. It is this blatant disregard for the rules and clichés of the British gangster film, which sets "Sexy Beast" apart and promises a glittering career in film for former ads director Jonathan Glazer, whose first film this is.

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