‘Sexy Beast’ defies audience’s desires

· Jul 11, 2001 Tweet

Walking out of the theater, there was no alternative but to listen to a nearby woman launch into a diatribe against, and nearly ruin, the movie most people had just thoroughly enjoyed. Not only was this woman unashamed at publicly pontificating at such a high volume, but also the fact that her views were completely inane did not seem to hold her back either.

“The only reason why anyone would like this is because it is too weird and they are too embarrassed to say they didn’t understand it,” she remarked to her husband at such a rapid rate and high volume that to dictate the said statement with commas would not be an accurate account of the above incident.

This is not to say that the raving woman’s argument against the film was without substance. “Sexy Beast” is, without a doubt, a weird film. But, not weird in an off-the-wall way (such as “Brazil”), nor in a don’t-give-the-audience-any-type-of-basic-plot-information way (such as in anything screened in a Com. Arts 355 lecture). It is weird in a cool, stylish, don’t-give-the-audience-every-single-bit-of-information-that-they-might-want way.

“Sexy Beast” centers around Gary Dove (Ray Winstone, “Ripley’s Game”), who has left his London life as a burglar to take move to the coast of Spain. He lounges about and speaks in such an incomprehensible Cockney accent that one might suggest sitting as far away from any fellow viewers as possible, especially your mom, lest she continually ask you: “What did he say?” Here, Gary spends his days shamelessly lying by his pool in yellow Speedos, drinking and hanging out with another ex-Patriot couple.

As the film opens, a huge boulder rolls down a cliff into Gary’s pool, only missing him by an inch. If that was a sign of bad things to come, come they do — in the shape of the Ben Kingsley character, Don Logan. As the official bad ass, Don asks Logan — in a spectacularly edited scene — to take one last job. Refusing to take “no” for an answer, Don does everything from wrestling up long lost secrets to pissing on Gary’s carpet to persuade him.

The ensuing, highly stylish robbery scene, which is surely not the highlight of the film, is dealt with as a side note. The film is not about the robbery, rather, it is about a character that happens to be involved with a robbery. While most films — most films appreciated by the aforementioned woman, that is — would spend the first hour telling the details of the robbery and the second showing the robbery and the aftermath, “Sexy Beast” loans only a fraction of its time to the event. It tells the audience everything it needs to know, but doesn’t want to waste time giving all the details that this woman might want.

Some may not like the fact that the film isn’t very cut and dry. Any difficulty understanding the film is acceptable, given the barely-intelligible accents, but “Sexy Beast” stands out for its willingness to tell a story the way it should be told, not the way an audience demands.



This article was published Jul 11, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Jul 11, 2001 at 12:00 am


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