SEXY BEAST directed by Jonathan Glazer, written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto, produced by Jeremy Thomas, with Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Amanda Redman and Ian McShane. 84 minutes. A Film Four/A Recorded Picture Company production. A Fox Searchlight release. Opens Wednesday (June 13). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 97. Rating: NNNN
sexy beast filmmaker jonathanGlazer earned the tag "sexy director" at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, where he wowed audiences with his debonair looks and sharp intellect as well as his debut feature film.
The 36-year-old Brit comes to filmmaking after winning awards for his Guinness and Stella Artois TV ads and music videos for acts like Radiohead, Massive Attack and Jamiroquai. He likes fast-paced, in-your-face visuals, which makes his choice of Sexy Beast as his coming-out movie a little odd.
It's a tension-filled character study with a hermetically sealed script. It's all about the dialogue, baby.
Ray Winstone stars as retired gangster Gal, who along with his ex-porn- star wife, Deedee (Amanda Redman), is living the high life in Spain. All's well till fellow gangster Don (Ben Kingsley) arrives from England demanding that Gal help him pull off a surefire heist.
"The drama in this movie is based on repetition, and the brutality is in the film's language rather than the action," says Glazer during a chat at a downtown hotel during the festival. "Sustaining that, having that smoulder and not flame out, is very hard to do. Each scene between Ray and Ben basically repeats itself, with Ben saying, "Do the job, do the fucking job' -- so we had to spread those out."
Kingsley and Winstone give outstanding performances as the nasty blokes butting heads.
"Ben's a Napoleonic little entity. He's completely officious, puritanical and controlling," laughs Glazer. "He's pitted against a huge bear of man in Ray, a man who's obviously capable of violence. It doesn't seem an even match, but then the script turns it around.
"The script is so tight, I couldn't use flashy or showy direction. I had to be functional, let the dialogue dance rather than the imagery. And I photographed the movie like I was taking holiday snaps, which, to be honest, was really frustrating for me," says Glazer.
"But I had no choice, because here you have these two great actors sitting across from each other sharing this great rhythmic exchange, and if one of them adds one extra word or even a comma, it all falls to bits. We were all slaves to the script, and I accepted that because I wanted my first film to be something very contained and simple, so I could get my feet wet."
"But I'm sure you're just itching to show what you can do in your next film," I hazard.
"Fuck, yeah," he says with a cocky smile.