Sexy Beast

There’s an old line in life that death comes in threes… comedy that uses repetition comes in threes as well. In Sexy Beast, the arrival of Ben Kingsely’s terrifying Don Logan is given plenty of set-ups in the early moments of the film. There’s environmental symbolism as a wealthy retired gangster suntans near his large pool in Spain. Suddenly a huge boulder comes tumbling down the hill and crashes into the water. As if that doesn’t provide enough of a warning that an outside villain will interfere in his retirement, next while cooking on the grill sparks and high flames appear and the following day, while hunting, mechanical gun mishaps abound. Once Kingsley’s character—the hyper, foul-mouthed, frightening Don Logan arrives, there’s no more need for warning. Evil has hit the idyllic life his old fellow crooks and their trophy wives share.

The film itself is uneven and a bit of a mess—it has a wonderfully odd sense of humor that one notices right away during the opening credits but it’s Kingsley’s movie all the same and the rants of his character are both shocking and hilarious at the same time. Anything starring the man who played Ghandi and named Sexy Beast you know is not taking itself too seriously and Kingsley looks as though he’s having a blast in a role he told press he modeled after his grandmother (I sincerely hope this is false). His portrayal of Don Logan has been listed on several top 100-film lists for the best villain and/or best performance by an actor in recent years, although sadly the film isn’t a match for his devious charms. Fans of classic noirs will recall Richard Widmark gleefully pushing an elderly wheelchair bound woman down the stairs in Kiss of Death—something tells me that Kingsley may have studied the film prior to filming. Or, in a parallel universe where movie characters live, Widmark’s villain and Kingsley’s Logan would have been fast friends… to quote The Breakfast Club, the two “should get together and go bowling.”