Gary “Gal” Dove (Ray Winstone) has had a good run as a safe-cracker, so good that he and his wife DeeDee (Amanda Redman) can afford to retire from London bank jobs and relax at their Spanish villa. All is well until an old associate named Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) demands that Gal pull one more heist for London crime boss Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). If you’re a fan of classic film noir, you’ll recognize this as the basic set-up from Out of the Past (1947), but the similarities pretty much end there.
Sexy Beast is a film I watched for the first time just over a year ago but watching at Noir City DC was nothing short of a revelation. Eddie Muller introduced the film by stating that it was the newest film on the Noir City DC slate, but one that certainly fits into the “big knockover” theme. “I have a tendency,” said Muller, “to focus on (a film’s) writers because I think they don’t get enough credit… but this is Glazer’s personal film.” Director Jonathan Glazer (Birth, Under the Skin), who began his career in commercials and music videos, has a unique way to telling a story and it simply has to be experienced.
Although Sexy Beast is another “guy-gets-pulled-in-to-do-one-last-job” film, Muller states that it’s the ultimate of those films. Yet the movie is atypical in that it’s largely a love story. Gal just wants to live his life in peace and contentment with his wife DeeDee. All is well until Don Logan appears, turning the story into a vulgar, abuse-filled, violent story. (Muller calls it “Gandhi Goes Bad.”)
You can’t have a great noir story without a great villain, but Sexy Beast has two: Don Logan and Teddy Bass, both equally chilling and unforgettable. Do don’t want to have to deal with either of these guys. Both of ’em? Man…
On this rewatch I appreciated Glazer’s visual storytelling on a greater level, especially some of the more surreal moments of the film, which made much more sense this time. There’s also something about his pacing that seems to pull you along during the first 45 minutes, exploring all the characters in a way that totally pays off during the last half hour. Rather than sticking with the meticulous details of the heist (which is a very unusual one to begin with), Glazer just takes us through it without explanation, which makes the film even more mesmerizing, as do the stellar performances. Sexy Beast could easily become one of my favorite neo noir films of all time; maybe yours too.
Photos: IMDb, DVD Beaver, Overdue Review