Sexy Beast

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Sexy Beast
Original film poster
Directed byJonathan Glazer
Written byLouis Mellis
David Scinto
Produced byJeremy Thomas
CinematographyIvan Bird
Edited byJohn Scott
Sam Sneade
Music byRoque Baños
Kanzaman S.A.
Recorded Picture Company
Jeremy Thomas Productions
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures (Select territories)
FilmFour Distributors[1] (United Kingdom and Ireland)
Release dates
  • 13 September 2000 (2000-09-13) (TIFF)
  • 12 January 2001 (2001-01-12) (UK)
  • 15 June 2001 (2001-06-15) (US)
  • 8 March 2002 (2002-03-08) (Spain)
Running time
88 minutes
CountriesUnited States
United Kingdom
Budget$4.3 million[2]
Box office$10.2 million[2]

Sexy Beast is a 2000 black comedy crime film directed by Jonathan Glazer (in his feature film 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 criminal visited by a sociopathic gangster (Kingsley) who demands that he take part in a bank robbery in London.

Sexy Beast was critically acclaimed, and Kingsley's performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.[3] In 2004, Total Film named Sexy Beast the 15th best British film. It was the final film to feature Cavan Kendall, who died of cancer shortly after filming ended.[4]


British ex-criminal Gary "Gal" Dove is happily retired on the Costa del Sol with his beloved wife DeeDee, his best friend Aitch, and Aitch's wife Jackie. An old criminal associate, the feared sociopath Don Logan, arrives at Gal's villa, intent on enlisting Gal for a bank robbery in London planned by crime lord Teddy Bass. Teddy has learned about the bank vault from Harry, the bank's chairman, whom he met at an orgy. Gal declines, but Don continues to pressure Gal, growing increasingly aggressive and violent.

After Gal suggests that Don's real reason for visiting is his infatuation with Jackie, with whom he had a brief affair, Don grows furious and leaves. On the plane back to England, Don refuses to extinguish his cigarette prior to takeoff, is aggressive to staff and other passengers, and is ejected, but avoids punishment by claiming that a flight attendant sexually assaulted him. He returns to the villa screaming obscenities and attacks Gal with a bottle. DeeDee emerges with Gal's hunting shotgun and shoots Don, incapacitating him; the group beat him to death and bury him under the swimming pool.

In London, Gal prepares for the heist. When Teddy questions Gal about Don's whereabouts, Gal claims that Don returned to London and called him from Heathrow Airport. The heist involves using diving gear to drill into the bank vault from a pool in a neighbouring bath house. The pool water muffles the sound of the drilling equipment and also floods the vault and shorts its security system. As Teddy's crew empties the vault's safe deposit boxes, Gal secretly pockets a pair of ruby and diamond earrings.

After the job, Teddy insists on driving Gal to the airport. He stops at Harry's home, where he shoots Harry and demands that Gal tell him where Don is. Gal responds that he is "not into this any more". While dropping Gal off, Teddy indicates that he knows that Gal was involved in something happening to Don, and implies that Gal would be severely punished if Teddy cared at all about Don. He suggests he may visit Gal in Spain and humiliates him by paying him only £10 for the job.

Gal returns to his friends and family in Spain, where DeeDee wears the earrings and life has returned to normal. Gal still hears Don's voice in his head; he responds that Don is dead now and can "shut up".


  • 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 Don
  • Álvaro Monje as Enrique, a Spanish houseboy who helps Gal around the house


Sexy Beast was shot in London and Spain in the summer of 1999. Ray Winstone travelled to Spain two weeks before filming commenced to get as deep a tan as he could in the time possible and to eat as much as he could to bulk up considerably. He later called this "the best rehearsal time I've ever had in my life".[5] Winstone had originally been considered for the role of Don, along with Anthony Hopkins.[6]

The producer Jeremy Thomas remembered his experience making the film:[7]

"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."

Technical elements of the heist have been compared with those in the 1979 film Sewers of Gold, which also starred McShane in the central role.[citation needed]


As of January 2022, the film has an approval rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 141 reviews with an average rating of 7.30/10. 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."[8] On Metacritic, it has a rating of 79/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[9]

It received praise from writers at the San Francisco Chronicle,[10] Entertainment Weekly,[11] Slate,[12] Rolling Stone[13] and the Los Angeles Times.[14] Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post was less enthusiastic, describing the plot as "preposterous" and highlighting "Ben Kingsley spraying saliva-lubricated variants of the F-word into the atmosphere like anti-aircraft fire for 10 solid minutes" as the film's "one guilty pleasure".[15]

Box office[edit]

Sexy Beast grossed $10.2 million on a budget of $4.3 million, making it a relative box office success.[16]

Awards and honors[edit]

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 for the film was composed by Spanish composer/saxophonist Roque Baños and English electronic band UNKLE in collaboration with South .[17] 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".

In popular culture[edit]

Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms attributes the band's name to a line spoken by Ben Kingsley in the film.[18] Another line spoken by Kingsley inspired The Kooks' song 'Jackie Big Tits'.[19]

Prequel television series[edit]

A prequel television series based on the film was in development at Paramount Network, which was being produced by Paramount Television Studios and Anonymous Content. However, the series was scrapped by Paramount Network. On 15 February 2022, ViacomCBS Networks UK And Australia announced that the series was revived for Paramount+, but would instead be produced by Train a Comin' Productions, Familystyle, Chapter One, Solas Mind, Anonymous Content and Paramount Television International Studios.[20] The eight-episode series was released on 25 January 2024.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sexy Beast (2001)". BBFC. Retrieved 11 April 2024.
  2. ^ a b "Sexy Beast (2001) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Sir Ben's Sexy honour". BBC News. 31 December 2001. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  4. ^ Anastasia, George; Macnow, Glen (27 September 2011). The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies: Featuring the 100 Greatest Gangster Films of All Time. Running Press. ISBN 9780762443703 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "IMDB Sexy Beast facts". IMDb. Retrieved 30 November 2022.
  6. ^ "100 Greatest Gangers Films Sexy Beat". 9 November 2021. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  7. ^ "Jeremy Thomas - And I'm still a fan". Berlinale Talents. 29 October 2010. Archived from the original on 4 June 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Sexy Beast". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 5 December 2022.
  9. ^ Sexy Beast at Metacritic. Accessed 4 February 2008
  10. ^ Wesley, Morris (15 March 2002). "Kingsley a beauty in 'Sexy Beast' / His maniacal sadist adds frenzied edge". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  11. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (22 June 2001). "Sexy Beast (2001)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  12. ^ Edelstein, David (22 June 2001). "They Pull Me Back In". Slate. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  13. ^ Travers, Peter (15 June 2001). "Sexy Beast". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  14. ^ Turan, Kenneth. Sexy Beast: Stylish, but Very Nasty, Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2001. Accessed 4 February 2008.
  15. ^ Hunter, Stephen (22 June 2001). "'Sexy Beast': Gandhi Goes Gangsta". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  16. ^ "Sexy Beast Box Office". Retrieved 3 December 2022.
  17. ^ "Sexy Beast (Original Soundtrack)". Discogs. 12 February 2001. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  18. ^ Smyers, Darryl (13 June 2014). "Brian Sella of the Front Bottoms: "I Never Thought Anybody Would Listen to Our Band"". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  19. ^ "The Kooks: Schooled for Success". The Independent. 3 February 2006. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  20. ^ White, Peter (15 February 2022). "'Sexy Beast' Prequel Series, Dead At Paramount Network, Revived At Paramount+". Deadline. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  21. ^ Wu, Valerie (4 December 2023). "Paramount+ 'Sexy Beast' Prequel Series Sets Premiere Date, Drops First-Look Photos". Variety. Retrieved 24 February 2024.

External links[edit]