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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> July 2001 >> Sexy Beast

Sexy Beast

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
1 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
July 2001
IMDB Name:
Sexy Beast (2000)
Jonathan Glazer
crime, drama
MPAA Rating:
R for pervasive language, strong violence and some sexuality.


Looking back on my evening, I'm noticing certain similarities to a fateful night five years back. The restaurant was the same, the dish was the same, the theater was the same, and the accents were almost the same. Five years ago, I got physically ill watching Trainspotting. Tonight, I sat a little less miserably through Sexy Beast. We had to go back to the restaurant to collect something left behind, and I wish we'd needed more time to do so, sparing us the boredom. To add to my distress, Sexy Beast is populated solely by characters with British accents thicker than my threshold of understanding. I desperately wanted subtitles to assist me with the faster lines.

Sexy Beast starts out well enough. The opening shots of Ray Winstone earn a few chuckles, and the flying boulder even manages to get a laugh. Not long after, everything is doom and despair and tension pending the arrival of Ben Kingsley. Once he appears, the film plunges headlong into nervous gangster territory, never to return. Instead of a mildly-amusing, dialogue- driven test of wills between two interesting characters, Sexy Beast is a semi-competent caper drama with no payoff at the end. The violence serves no goal, and is presented as a no-win solution to a problem. I wanted Gal to find some extraordinarily clever way to turn Don away, not end up as part of the job. For that matter, what was so special about Gal's skills that Don was willing to expend that much effort for them?

I suppose I could try to compliment the cast, but there's nothing they could've done to save the material. Kingsley's Don is a one-note psycho, failing to convince by anything other than brute force. This is more a problem with the writing than the acting, but brute force acting is hard to acknowledge as something special. I would've been far more menaced by a Gary Oldman villain, usually packed with as much intelligence as rage. Winstone's Gal is too transparent to survive in the underground world. I thought of Thandie Newton's character in Mission: Impossible II, unable to conceal real emotions well enough to trick somebody who probably rose to their position by seeing through people.

I must give credit to the editors that assembled the trailer: they made a worthless piece of crap look watchable.

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Copyright 2001-2002 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.