Original film poster
|Directed by||Jonathan Glazer|
|Produced by||Jeremy Thomas|
|Written by||Louis Mellis|
|Music by||Roque Baños|
|Edited by||John Scott|
David Scinto (Uncredited)
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$10.2 million|
Sexy Beast is a 2000 crime film directed by Jonathan Glazer (in his feature directorial debut) and written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto. It stars Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, and Ian McShane. It follows Gary "Gal" Dove (Winstone), a retired ex-gangster visited by a violent gangster (Kingsley) who demands that he takes part in a bank job.
The film was critically acclaimed, and Kingsley's performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2004, the magazine Total Film named Sexy Beast the 15th best British film.
Ex-criminal Gary "Gal" Dove is happily retired in Spain with his beloved wife DeeDee, best friend Aitch, and Aitch's wife, Jackie. A boulder falls from a hill, nearly hits him, and lands in his swimming pool, damaging its double-heart insignia.
After an unsuccessful rabbit hunt with Aitch and Enrique, a Spanish boy who helps him around the house, Gal has a dream of a demonic, anthropomorphic rabbit pointing a gun at him.
An old criminal associate, the feared sociopath Don Logan, arrives at Gal's villa, intent on enlisting Gal for a bank robbery in London. Crime lord Teddy Bass learned about the vault from Harry, the bank's chairman, whom he met at an orgy. Gal politely declines, claiming he is no longer “match fit” (and, privately, still traumatized by a prior long prison stay), but Don grows increasingly aggressive and violent. After Gal suggests Don's real reason for visiting is his infatuation with Jackie, with whom he had a brief affair, Don grows furious and demands to be taken to the airport. On the plane, Don refuses to extinguish his cigarette prior to take-off, is aggressive to staff and other passengers, and is ejected.
Don returns to the villa screaming obscenities and attacks Gal with a bottle. Enrique threatens him with a gun, but Don disarms him. DeeDee aims Gal's shotgun at Don, but in the next scene Gal appears in a rainy London at the hotel where he was told to stay by Don, suggesting he has had no alternative but to accept the job.
Teddy asks Gal where Don is. Gal claims Don called him from Heathrow Airport and continues to feign ignorance and hide his panic as Teddy asks more questions. During the heist, Teddy's crew use diving gear to drill into Harry's vault from a pool in a neighbouring bath house. As Gal works, Don's fate is revealed – DeeDee shot Don in the stomach with the shotgun and then she, Jackie and Gal beat him. When a bloodied Don taunts Aitch that he had sex with Jackie, Aitch crushes his head with a barbeque set.
The pool water floods the vault and shorts its security system. As the crew empties the vault's safe deposit boxes, Gal secretly pockets a pair of ruby earrings encrusted with diamonds.
After the job, Teddy insists on driving Gal to the airport. He stops at Harry's home, where he kills Harry and demands Gal tell him where Don is. Gal finally responds that he is "not into this any more", effectively admitting he did not want to do the job and has killed Don. Teddy tells Gal that he does not care about Don but implies Gal would also be dead if he did. He gives Gal £10 as payment for the job (Don had promised him 2.5 or 3% of the takings), giving him a twenty-pound-note and demanding change. Teddy leaves Gal at a bus stop. Gal pulls out the stolen gem encrusted earrings, his hidden reward for the job.
Gal returns to his friends and family in Spain, where DeeDee wears the earrings and life has returned to normal. Gal hears Don's voice tell him that he knew Gal would do the job; Gal responds that Don is dead now and can shut up. Under the restored double-heart insignia of the swimming pool, the demonic rabbit kicks open a coffin, revealing Don, who exhales smoke with contempt.
- Ray Winstone as Gary 'Gal' Dove, a retired criminal who married DeeDee and moved to Spain to start a new life
- Ben Kingsley as Don Logan, a violent sociopath and recruiter for the London underworld
- Ian McShane as Teddy Bass, a London crime boss
- Amanda Redman as DeeDee Dove, Gal's beloved wife and a former porn star
- James Fox as Harry, a banker who shows Bass the vault
- Cavan Kendall as Aitch, Dove's best friend
- Julianne White as Jackie, Aitch's wife, who had a fling with Logan
- Álvaro Monje as Enrique, a Spanish boy who helps Gal around the house
Sexy Beast was the beginning of a new phase for me of working with first-time filmmakers. Jonathan Glazer was a television commercials director in the UK, and a wonderful talent. We were sent this script which he was attached to, and out came this wonderful film. It was very stimulating having a first time talent... The dialogue as you see in this film is exceptional. I had never read a script like it, and I thought, this has got to be made. It was very difficult to get insurance on the film actually. When the American studio bought the film, their legal department said: "You cannot make this." It has something like 300 uses of the word "cunt", and 400 "fucks", but somehow it passed the censorship and got out there.
As of July 2020[update], the film has an approval rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 135 reviews with an average rating of 7.21/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Sexy Beast rises above other movies in the British gangster genre due to its performances -- particularly an electrifying one by Ben Kingsley -- and the script's attention to character development." On Metacritic, it has a rating of 79/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews". It received praise from writers at the San Francisco Chronicle, Entertainment Weekly, Slate, Rolling Stone and the Los Angeles Times, but was panned by Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post who described some of the film's moments as "Ben Kingsley spraying saliva-lubricated variants of the F-word into the atmosphere like anti-aircraft fire for 10 solid minutes." It was also described as "often enjoyable" but "massively uneven" by Variety.
Awards and honours
Kingsley's performance received a majority of the accolades given to Sexy Beast, winning Best Supporting Actor awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Boston Society of Film Critics, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, Florida Film Critics Circle, San Diego Film Critics Society, Southeastern Film Critics Association and the Toronto Film Critics Association. He also was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award (losing to Ian McKellen for his performance in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), a Golden Globe and an Academy Award (losing both to Jim Broadbent for his performance in Iris). The film also won Best Director and Best Screenplay from the British Independent Film Awards and Special Recognition ("For excellence in film making") from the National Board of Review.
Original music by English electronic band UNKLE in collaboration with South and also Spanish composer/saxophonist Roque Baños. Dean Martin's version of "Sway" accompanies the film's end credits. The soundtrack also includes "Peaches" by The Stranglers, "Cuba" by The Gibson Brothers, "G-Spot" by Wayne Marshall, "Daddy Rollin' Stone" by Derek Martin, and Henry Mancini's "Lujon" (from the 1961 LP "Mr. Lucky Goes Latin").
Vocalist and guitarist Brian Sella of American folk punk band The Front Bottoms attributes the band's name to this film. The film was also the inspiration behind The Kooks song 'Jackie Big Tits', after a line spoken by Ben Kingsley's character.
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