Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Jonathan Glazer's Sexy Beast is about a retired gangster (well played by Ray Winstone) who tries hard to keep a promise he made to his wife. The problem is, you can't refuse Don Logan (Ben Kingsley in a powerfully evil and disturbing reading that destroys any image one would have had after having watched Gandhi). The cast is superb, the dialogue crackles (with Cockney gangsters whaddya expect?), and the pace is tight (the film length is a little shy of 90 minutes). The stylish intense character-driven film that opens with an overhead shot of plump "Gal" Dove lying on a beach chair in the hot Spanish sun and a voiceover that begins with "Oh Yeah! Bloody Hell!". The similarities between this film and Soderbergh's The Limey are most evident when Don gives Gal the backstory on the planned heist. And is the vertigo zoom (seen when Don Logan is at the airport) now getting more popular? This moody piece is highly recommended: for Kingsley's intense performance ("I'm playing a tomahawk missile", he notes on the commentary track), for the cool soundtrack (what with Dean Martin's Sway -- aka Quien Sera), and as a great entry in British contemporary gangster film.

Elsewhere: the Senses of Cinema page

addendum:[September 08, 2004] More insight from the commentary track on the DVD (Ben Kingsley and producer Jeremy Thomas). Director Glazer's description of the film ("a very very simple story about the redemptive power of love"). A Greek myth-style description of the film ("once upon a time, there was a man who thought he was very happy. So the Gods sent to him, the unhappiest man in the world"). That the phrase "my front bottom" owes a lot to the kind of rhetoric one hears from children, thus allowing a reading of the child in Don Logan. The small detail of a happy couple sitting in a restaurant with two separate menus, and the wife selecting something on the menu that the husband cannot find. And how the little details add up: the rabbit hunt, the dinner ruined by the news of Don Logan's visit, Gal's first dream (tinted in blue) as he sits with the kalimari (his choice for the aborted dinner) while a large rabbit rides up to him, Gal dining again (this time the food is real) and has a vision of the rabbit approaching except that this time it's Teddy.

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