2000. Directed by Jonathan Glazer
There's been a lot of discussion about Glazer's masterpiece, Under the Skin, recently and it got me thinking about his origins. This naturally led me to return to this scorching debut, a piece of neo-noir that pays homage and transcends the genre simultaneously.
Gal, is an ex safe cracker who lives in harmony in Spain with his wife and close friends. His serenity is threatened when an old associate arrives and demands that he participate in one last job.
The setup is simple and I'd argue the weakest part of the film.
The characters however, are some of the best personalities ever brought to life. The script by Louis Mellis and David Scinto is filled with humanity, malice, and some of the most creative uses of profanity I've ever witnessed. The dialogue is able to make you care for and despise the characters without warning and it's intoxicating.
This film cannot be discussed with talking about Ben Kingsley's scene stealing tour de force. Described by others as "the anti-Gandhi". Kingsley's Ben Logan is the stuff of legends. He portrays a criminal sociopath with such comfortable respect it's almost indescribable. He walks the tightrope of unrepentant violence and narcissistic vulnerability that it's often difficult to tell which you're experiencing and it is this dichotomy that makes the film.
It's absolutely gorgeous. Ivan Bird has a wonderful knack of capturing the beauty of life, from sun choked Spanish Villas to underwater bank heists, the characters remain in the forefront. It's their fears and hopes that build the narrative and it's Bird's camera that allows them to do so by tight shots of the faces of the players, communicating their desires and regrets with ease.
In the end, Sexy Beast is an uneven, almost schizophrenic delight and that is exactly what Glazer was going for. From a hilariously obtuse soundtrack to anthropomorphic rabbits with Uzis, this an more of an event than a film and one hell of a shot to the dome.
Available on Amazon, Vudu, & Itunes for streaming rental.