Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Sexy Beast

Sexy Beast
Sexy Beast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Having only ever seen Ray Winstone in bit-part American roles, in which he's always very good, I decided now would be the time to take a look at some of his back catalogue. Sexy Beast seemed the most appealing place to start so here are some notes from my first viewing....

Quick plot summary, Ex-con Gary Dove (Winstone) is living a life of paradise in sunny spain with his wife (Amanda Redman) when its all disturbed by Don Logan (Ben Kingsley). Logan insists that Gary does one more job, Gary doesn't want to. That is pretty much the plot, wafer thin some might say, but director Jonathan Glazer manages to draw an excellent hour and a half out of this well-worn Gangster movie device. Ever seen Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels? Felt that it was all style no substance? Well, see Sexy Beast to have this confirmed. At its most basic level the film is an entertaining Brit Gangster romp, with Winstone practically born to play the gruff ex-con. But what sets it apart is that its trying to say things about temptation and desire and consequently its characters are more than the one note bores that populate all of Guy Ritchie's films.

Special mention needs to be made of Ben Kingsley here, though. His Don Logan is a force of nature,  so loaded with expletives that he hits this movie like a train and never lets go. I said above that he insists Gary do this one job and boy does he; every second he's on screen is both uncomfortable and exhilarating at the same time. Logan represents the temptation here, he shows how it can attack us all in places deep under our skin.

Brief word on the direction here; brave. Glazer clearly isn't afraid to task risks, take note of his tunnel digging exit. But occasionally his showmanship becomes a bit too much. For example, does the camera really need to go with the revolving doors as they swing round? No, it doesn't, but Glazer does anyway and in some sense that's to be commended. If only he could have reigned it in a little bit then this would have been a much more even picture.

No matter, the end result is as stylish as they come and, if the ship ever shows signs of sinking, its quickly re-anchored by Kingsley and Winstone.

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