Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

Cult Film Review: Sexy Beast

Ex-con Gal (Ray Winstone)’s life is going well; he spends his retired days sunbathing by the pool of his Spanish villa in the “sweltering” heat. Everything seems fine, until a boulder crashes into his pool and old associate Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) announces a visit. From there, everything goes downhill as Logan, one of the most intense characters put to celluloid, stays at Gal’s villa to lure him back to one more job; a vault robbery organised by Teddy Bass (a flamboyant Ian McShane).

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Sexy Beast always has a panic of slipping into generic gangster film, especially in the second act, but is pulled together by two things; a sense of abnormality (Gal has repeated visions of a Donnie-Darko esque rabbit) and Kingsley’s performance as Don Logan. One of the scariest British screen villains in history, Logan first appears to be the world’s worst conversationalist, before turning into a genuine psycho. While previously known for his roles in high calibre drama like Ghandi and Schindler’s List, Kingsley is now synonymous with his outstanding role as the man fluent in swearing.

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Let it be known, that if you are offended by bad language, run a mile from Sexy Beast, as the curse words spat hatefully from the mouth of Kingsley taken on an almost poetical form, with lines like “Fuck off, you’re revolting. Look at your suntan, its leather, it’s like leather man, your skin. We could make a fucking suitcase out of you. Like a crocodile, fat crocodile, fat bastard” said with perfect precision and speed. It is not to say Winstone isn’t good; in fact he does some excellent work as the put upon retiree. However, no matter how good he is, he is the second billing; this is Kingsley’s film, and he owns the screen.

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It may have a weaker second half than the first, but it’s never a bad or boring film; consistently entertaining, Sexy Beast was a breath of fresh air for the British gangster film, with a funny and original script that occasionally slips into cliché but always manages to surprise. It can be ranked up with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch as a high benchmark in the modern gangster genre.

Grade: B+

By Harry J. Ford

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