Retro Review: Sexy Beast

Picture this. Gary “Gal” Dove (Ray Winstone) is a retired gangster living abroad when he is visited by Don (Ben Kingsley), a man from his past. Gary tells Don that he has indeed retired and he doesn’t want anything to do with the business again. Don insists on trying to convince Gary that the job is perfect and he has to do it. Gary continues to evade Don’s pressuring until Don become extremely vicious, malignant and brutal. What is Gary to do when Don starts threatening his wife, friends and reputation?

“Sexy Beast” has a very welcoming and interesting opening. When a boulder nearly misses poor Gary and lands smack dab in his pool this event foreshadows the tension coming to Gary’s life. As we get to know Gary we begin to see into the psyche of the man. This is done quite well through dreamscape journeys and even a “hairy” mutant who seems to represent Gary’s fear. This is all very interesting because it fleshes out who this gangster is and what haunts while he enjoys his new hideaway.

Beast’s actors are all exceptional but Kingsley’s psychotic Don really will be found to be overly abusive. I squirmed and pulled at my hair in every scene he was in. This character is one of the most annoying and irritating in recent memory. Kingsley’s passion is highly evident as he milks every psychotic moment found in Don. It is a brilliant performance if you can get through it. He is so aggravating.

There is one point in this movie where I was so totally lost that I found it hard to narrow down what the actual job Kingsley was trying to get Winstone to commit to. This misunderstood plot unraveling, which I couldn’t follow, added to my aggravation with this film. How were these other cronies related to Gary? What was their motive to do this massive job they were planning?

My biggest problem with Beast was how it highly abuses the audience almost to the point where the audience can’t get into the film. I heard this was being touted as a comedy with a very black twist.

I have seen some really dark comedies in my time but nothing here would really make me see that side.

I felt very alienated by the end of the second act. Maybe it was just me being to sensitive but I found it very hard to get around the Kingsley character and enjoy the rest of the film. I felt like one of those guys who is being tortured into giving up some vital information but doesn’t understand any of the questions. I would be willing to bet I would confess all my sins if I could only get out of the theatre.

There were some scenes littered through the third act that were gems. The underwater vault and the late-night visit come to mind. For me the payoff that this film needed never really presented itself. I just wanted it to be over. I know as a member of the film critic community I may be the minority but I just don’t see the gem within this abuse.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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