Saturday, January 16, 2021

Sexy Beast

Movie Name:
Sexy Beast
Year of Release: 2000
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Starring: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, James Fox, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White, Alvaro Monje, Robert Atiko
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Director Jonathan Glazer made a name for himself in the 90s with a series of superbly crafted music videos for bands such as Radiohead, Massive Attack, Blur and Nick Cave. "Sexy Beast" is in fact his feature film debut, and had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2000, before going to a wide release during 2001. The film follows the story of Gal, a retired British criminal who is currently living with his wife Deedee in southern Spain, where all he does is focus on his tanning, enjoying his pool and being able to go to the restaurant with another couple who has also retired to the same area. This idyllic retirement is violently shaken to its core, when Don Logan, Gal's former boss, suddenly reappears, wanting him to come out of retirement for a seemingly impossible heist in London. The menacing Don has everyone on the group shaking due to his moody and violence prone emotional swings. The more Gal resists Don's forcing requests, the more charged up he gets. As events take a darker turn, Gal is forced to make decisions to sustain his privately created Eden. 
"Sexy Beast" is an interestingly constructed film, in the sense the central characters are briefly introduced, and as the narrative progresses, we learn a bit more about their connections, without ever truly discovering what prompted some of their decisions to justifiably explain where they currently are. In that similar vein, though the film has a heist as a catalyst for the events which are taking place, it holds a surprisingly thin piece of the narrative itself. The film ends up focusing primarily on the effect that this menacing character has not only over the protagonist, but also over the small group of characters who lives within his relationship-ecosystem. This disruptive force, is ever more menacing, not only due to the fact that it has this violent behavior associated with him, but also for what it represents, namely the disruption and destruction of their Eden. These environments, both the sun soaked Spanish experience, and the gloomy and industrial British, are perfectly captured by Jonathan Glazer, as are the interactions between the central group of characters, which are brought to life thanks to an amazing cast, with Ben Kingsley in particular creating an indelible character, with strong support from Ray Winstone and Ian McShane. It's a film that while adhering to a particular genre, manages to be so much more, thanks to a unique point of view from its director. Worth watching.