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Sexy Beast (2000) starstarstar

Reviewed 2001-08-18
: Though he doesn't stick around for the whole movie, Sexy Beast is dominated by the forceful, crazed, yet subtly sexy Ben Kingsley -- bald head and ramrod erect, like an immense phallus. You feel his presence even when he's off-screen. Gal (Ray Winstone) is a retired gangster living in a Spanish villa with his ex-porn actress wife Deedee (Amanda Redman). One day he is sunning himself placidly beside the pool when a boulder comes crashing by, barely missing him. Soon, he and his pal Aitch (Cavan Kendall) are being threatened by this human boulder, Don Logan (Kingsley). Logan wants Gal for the proverbial "one last job": a vault break-in in London, masterminded by the deadly looking Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). And Logan won't take no for an answer. Nevertheless, Gal says no. And, nevertheless, Gal ends up doing the job-- but not everthing ends as expected. And all the while, Gal is plagued by dreams of a menacing, hairy beast.

I had a little trouble with the English dialect in Sexy Beast. But the ensemble work was great: Winstone avoids looking wimpy, even though we never learn what he was like as a gangster; McShane looks like he could freeze water at a glance. The wives, Deedee and Jackie (Julianne White), Aitch's wife, but once "fucked" by Logan, have strong work to do, too. I have no doubt that this film is Kingsley's best work to date -- better even than his Oscar-winning portrayal in Ghandi (1982).

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Ronald Bruce Meyer is a freelance reviewer.