Directed by Jonathon Glazer
(Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley,
Ian McShane, Amanda Redman)
The opening sequence of Sexy Beast typifies the style of the film as a whole. It is at once disorienting and also logically impressionistic. The film opens with a shot of the protagonist Gary “Gal” Dove (Ray Winstone) baking his generously proportioned self in the Spanish sun, ensconced in the pure whiteness of a traditional Spanish villa. It’s a picture of serenity. Relaxed, he’s finally out of the business. With his days of crime behind him, the biggest problem in Gal’s life is whether to order the calamari or the crab at dinner.
And then his past catches up with him. Film noir aficionados have often seen the first plot twist ad nauseum: The old partner blows into town and talks the hero into one last big score.
However, Jonathon Glazer’s film proceeds in a new direction that this film noir fan never foresaw. The film unfolds in London’s underground, where there are no alliances and no notions of honor among thieves.
One particularly pertinent scene of a mass orgy beautifully illustrates the relationships of the criminals. Just as the participants hop from one body to the next, so too do these criminals hop from one scheme to the next, with no remorse for partners lost, eyes forward to the next big “score.”
In a world where characters have no respect for the past, can Gal actually succeed in escaping his? Or are fate and karma more powerful than existentialism? And just who is the sexy beast – the homicidal, muscular picture of machismo, or the overweight soft-spoken character who would do anything for his true love? It truly is a beast of a question.
Sexy Beast opens today at Landmark’s Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis.