My life as a film reviewer has been relatively brief. I have only been doing this blog for about a year now and this is my first venture into creating something unique like this. I have attempted several blogs in the past but this is the only one that has seemed to stick. I have a bit of a routine when it comes to writing my reviews. I first watch the film, then I mull it over while looking at any trivia I could use on IMDB, and then I see what other people have said about the film while trying to form a cohesive response or something completely different. This strategy is not for a lot of film reviewers, but it seems to work pretty well for me. Except when I get stuck and every film review seems to be the same. Then I am trudging through a field of mediocrity in order to write about a mediocre film. Mediocre films for me is a more of a bummer than if I hated the film. At least I know what I want to talk about when it comes to horrible films. But mediocre films are films that are not bad, but will never be great for me. They all have some redeeming quality to them and even might be brilliant films in the eyes of other people, but I just didn’t connect with it. I am writing this diatribe purely because I want to let you know that Sexy Beast is a good film. It in fact had me invested throughout the whole thing. I just didn’t love the film and I can’t tell you why.
If you are familiar with this film at all then you know its claim to fame is the intense performance of Sir Ben Kingsley. He plays a foul-mouthed criminal who is sent to take a man out of blissful retirement and return him to the heist business. He yells, threatens, coaxes and just plain scares everyone around him to do his bidding. It is fun to watch. He delivers his dialogue in such a way that you laugh, but you immediately regret the laughter. That is because what he is saying is menacing but how he is saying it is comedic. His foil is the retired criminal, played by Ray Winstone. He can be over the top just as much as Sir Ben Kingsley can, but what is great about his performance here is how much he is not going for the rafters. Instead he mumbles in his weird London accent, purses his lips together and stoically rejects Kingsley’s character’s proposal. No matter what he says this man does not want to put himself in that kind of danger ever again. It is a great pairing of two great character actors. The last actor I wanted to mention was the third great character actor, Ian MacShane. He has a much smaller part than he deserves in this film, but every time he is on-screen he fills it with his dialogue delivery, cutting expressions and demeanor of self-reliance. I could really watch Ian MacShane act all day. (in fact I have several times… I love you Deadwood)
These great performances are helped by the camera’s treatment of the story. What the camera sees is not always what it needs to see. You don’t have to see a jackal running away in slow motion in order to get that you are entering a hunting scene. But there it is. Also the personification of Mr. Winstone’s nightmare as a demon rabbit is haunting and not over done. In fact there were several shots in the film that I found great.
So why didn’t I love this film as much as I should have? I have no idea. Everything seems up my alley and I know that it was a well made film. And yet I don’t think I will be seeing it again any time soon. The fickleness of my taste rears its ugly head.