Sexy Beast (2000)

(Netflix streaming, July 2017) It seems counter-intuitive that a dull movie would feature a great performance, but here you go: Sexy Beast is an overly stylish, largely forgettable crime film that can nonetheless boast of a terrific performance by Ben Kingsley. Kingsley enjoys a reputation as a very respected actor (he won an Oscar for playing Gandhi, no less), but many of his roles have been on the less respectable side of the spectrum, and in Sexy Beast he hits a nadir of sorts as a psychopathic criminal with a non-existent fuse. Copious swearing and psychological manipulation is the least of what he can do, and violence is never far from his actions. It’s a terrific performance, and unfortunately it lands in a film that doesn’t deserve it. Sexy Beast is a caper film that masquerades as a psychological crime drama, but it’s almost empty of anything looking like suspense. While I usually like stylishly directed film, Jonathan Glazer’s work here seems more pretentious and aimless than anything else—None of the pieces really add up to anything interesting, and while I liked the dynamics of a crucial scene in which victims take revenge, Sexy Beast takes a long time to get there, and falsely thinks it’s not the end of the story. Everything else is anticlimactic and increasingly irritating. The result couldn’t be more uneven: a great performance by a great actor, limited in a film that doesn’t quite know what to do with it.

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