Just because you said that...
Sexy Beast is quite simply a film like no other. Sold as a standard gangster picture, it's a dark and very moody. The script is quite thin, but what director Jonathan Glazer does with it is one of the decade's most remarkable feats of filmmaking. This could've gone wrong a million different ways, and Glazer found the only right way to make it.
The film revels in offbeat touches, from a love scene filmed with the couple floating above the city to an armed rabbit/human hybrid. (Makes no sense now, but it adds tremendously to the films constant unease.) Yet the film's most commanding moments are its simplest. The film revolves around a retired gangster (Ray Winstone) and the man determined to bring him out of retirement. That man is Don Logan.
The film builds up a dream world leading to the first utterance of his name. "Don Logan". When we first hear it, the camera does a small but very obvious pullback, as if the cameraman wants to flee the room.
This is our first look at Don Logan.
Glazer builds up the man's reputation and the tremendous live wire performance by Ben Kingsley fulfills the promise of a man who makes every meeting, every meal, every conversation a very tense one. Kingsley doesn't just play one-note venom. He's truly unpredictable, sometimes over-the-top, sometimes understated and very clever, and sometimes he comes off as sad and hurt. Nobody wants a visit from Don Logan. We completely understand why, but Logan himself doesn't get it.
This makes an excellent double bill with Reservoir Dogs. While that film focused on the aftermath of a heist that doesn't go according to plan, Beast focuses almost completely on the set up. It's about trying to convince the key man to come out of retirement for one last job. The man is done, but Don Logan doesn't take 'no' for an answer. The verbal battles are so perfectly realized that it's a shame when events shift focus in the final act. Glazer tries too hard to sustain the mood, then lets it slip away into a low-key denouncement.
But even with that crippling last half-hour, I cannot bring myself to punish Sexy Beast. The first hour is emotionally perfect and Glazer's visual style and the way he plays his actors off each other is something to be cherished. * * * - Very Good