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Sexy Beast (1999, Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley)

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In his Costa del Sol villa, retired cockney gangster Gary Dove – known as Gal – (Ray Winstone) sees a boulder roll down the hill and smash into his swimming pool. It’s an omen prefiguring the arrival of Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), who threatens to upset the cosy life he has built alongside wife Dee Dee (Amanda Redman) and friends Aitch and Jackie (Cavan Kendall and Julianne White).

Logan wants Gary to do one final job – a safe-deposit box robbery – on behalf of London crimelord Teddy Bass (Ian McShane), and as Gary ponders the offer, Logan’s increasingly unstable behaviour, including an unwanted confession, disturbs everyone. When Dove decides to stay put, an incensed Logan heads for the airport. At the villa, everyone anticipates his return, knowing the next few hours will determine their future…

This devastating thriller takes its place alongside the decade’s best genre pictures, a world apart from the Mockney mayhem of wannabe Guy Ritchies. Jonathan Glazer – who made the iconic surfer/ horses commercial for Guinness – was scheduled to direct Gangster No. 1, another brutal FilmFour classic, but instead he stayed loyal to the original writers and hopped aboard their new project. From day one, his priorities were simple, claiming, ‘if the Jag you want turns up as a Fiat, then at least if you get the actors right, the rest doesn’t matter.’

The actors are right, but with respect to Winstone, McShane and Redman – each magnificent – they are eclipsed by Kingsley. Did he really play Gandhi? In his incandescent rage Logan is the worst kind of psycho: a natural. ‘He has the kind of sense of self that a Pit Bull or a Rottweiler has,’ says the actor. ‘The sense of self that a weapon has, you know, not so much a sense of self, but a sense of function.’

Immersing himself to the extent that he can still switch Logan on when necessary, he sparks a single thought in comparison – think of Hoskins in The Long Good Friday, and double it. Fellow British veteran Jim Broadbent usurped Kingsley’s Oscar.

production details
UK – Spain | 89 minutes | 2000

Director: Jonathan Glazer
Script: Louis Mellis, David Scinto,

cast
Ray Winstone as Gary ‘Gal’ Dove
Ben Kingsley as Don Logan
Ian McShane as Teddy Bass
James Fox as Harry
Amanda Redman as Deedee Dove
Cavan Kendall as Aitch
Julianne White as Jackie
Álvaro Monje as Enrique
Gérard Barray as Spanish Official
Robert Atiko as Andy
Desirée Erasmus as Jean
Nieves del Amo Oruet as Air Hostess
Terence Plummer as Mike
Eddie O’Connell as Bruno
Chris Webb as Nicky

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