Sexy Beast

Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Starring: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White.
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, strong violence and some sexuality.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <>
June 28, 2001

It is a real shame that the marketers for the American release of Sexy Beast felt the need to lure audiences in with a recognizable name. The only reason Ben Kingsley's name is above the title is that American audiences don't know who anyone else in the cast is (unless like me they grew up watching Ian McShane as Lovejoy on PBS and A&E). Kingsley does a terrific job in this film, but his name does not belong above the title. It's not his film; it's Ray Winstone's film.

Winstone plays Gary "Gal" Dove, a big-time London thief who has retired to sunny Spain with his wife DeeDee (Amanda Redman) and his close friends, Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and Jackie (Julianne White). Gal is the sexy beast of the title. In case there is any doubt, the words appear emblazoned across his crotch in the opening sequence. He is a huge man of huge appetites. He eats too much, enjoys sun bathing too much, indulges in clothes and cars and loves his friends and wife generously and completely. Into this oasis of love and indulgence lunges Don Logan (Ben Kingsley). Don wants Gal to come out of retirement and do a job. Gal says no; Don says yes repeatedly at high volume. Where the story goes from there, you'll have to find out for yourself.

As the plot becomes more complicated it also becomes a little disjointed and there are a few leaps of logic, but I am willing to forgive first-time film director Jonathan Glazer and first-time screenwriters Louis Mellis and David Scinto these very minor defects. Mostly the film is brilliant, moody, trippy, and funny with splendid dialogue, distinct powerful characters, and unique approaches to often-used situations. A strong debut for all three men.

Winstone's performance as Gal better make him a star. His performance is controlled and varied. He makes Gal extremely loveable with an undercurrent of the violence and impulsiveness of his past from which he is hiding in Spain. Kingsley's role is more flashy yet less complicated and critical. He plays Logan like a human bulldog sitting silently waiting to pounce, then barking out his lines at an incredible speed while he lunges his body toward the other actors. The rest of the cast is quite good. I particularly liked Amanda Redman as Gal's hard yet loving wife. Unfortunately, I sometimes had difficulty understanding the actors. This is a function of the heavy accents and unfamiliar slang, rather than anybodies' acting ability -- but it was irritating. It was particularly difficult to understand Cavan Kendall as Aitch and Kingsley when he really got going.

A brief note on language: it's foul and not in the way American audiences are used to. Yes they do occasionally use the F word, but mostly they use a term for the female privates starting with a C. They use it like punctuation or f*** in a David Mamet script. I found it a little jarring.

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Sexy Beast (2000)

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