"The Devil Is A Trickster"
What You Need To Know:
Despite a rich layer of meaning in its story, SEXY BEAST ultimately fails to do much with it. Though at times it is a very stylish movie, it is also frequently foul and lacks redemptive or uplifting elements to counteract the brutal, immoral world it depicts. Also, although the movie is more of a character study filled with much dialogue and plenty of intense drama, its violent scenes are few and brief, but very bloody or brutal. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® can’t quite recommend SEXY BEAST to anyone.
(PaPa, B, LLL, VVV, S, NN, A, D, MM) Pagan worldview with some mild moral elements of protecting one’s home & friends & protecting an innocent person; 113 mostly strong obscenities & 1 mild profanity; few & brief, but very bloody or brutal, violent scenes, including a couple shootings & fighting; implied orgy & nude couple kisses; upper female nudity at implied orgy, partial male nudity & married couple lies in bed; alcohol use; smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality such as stealing, gangsterism, uncontrollable anger, & rudeness.
In some primitive mythologies and folklore, the jackrabbit or hare is a Trickster figure, a deceptive character with contradictory human, even earthy, traits who brings chaos wherever he goes. Usually, Trickster stories are comical stories, such as the Bugs Bunny cartoons produced by Warner Bros. Sometimes, however, the Trickster figure can be a nastier, more malevolent being who delights in ignoring social niceties.
Ben Kingsley, so mild mannered in GANDHI and SCHINDLER’S LIST, plays such a malevolent Trickster character in the new British crime thriller, SEXY BEAST. Kingsley is Don Logan, a nasty, brutal criminal with a very short fuse. Don wants Gary “Gal” Dove, a retired criminal enjoying the good life in sunny Spain, to help him pull a multi-million dollar bank heist organized by two bigger mobsters. Gal keeps telling Don that he’s retired, but Don won’t take no for an answer. Single-minded and impatient, Don gets increasingly more adamant, attacking the moral character of Gal’s beloved wife, DeeDee, threatening their innocent, young servant and revealing a past sexual indiscretion Don had with their married friend, Jackie. Eventually, a violent, bloodthirsty confrontation results, which shows Gal that he still hasn’t forgotten some of his old habits.
In several dreamlike sequences of the movie, Gal dreams of a menacing half-man/half-jackrabbit devil who threatens him in his nightmares. Clearly, Don represents this malevolent Trickster figure to Gal. Only by adopting some of Don’s own evil habits can Gal manage to survive his nightmarish encounter with the dark underworld of his past. Thus, the symbolic Trickster character(s) in SEXY BEAST, like all “good” Trickster stories, remind Don, and the audience, that dark instinctual drives, or sins, are still within us, no matter how much we’ve tried to escape to a man-made “paradise.”
Despite this rich layer of meaning in the story, SEXY BEAST ultimately fails to do much with it. Though at times it is a very stylish movie, it is also frequently foul and lacks redemptive or uplifting elements to counteract the brutal, immoral world it depicts. Also, despite good performances, especially by Kingsley and Ray Winstone, who plays Gal, the acting does not fully command one’s empathy or one’s need for intellectual or spiritual stimulation. Finally, although the movie is more of a character study filled with much dialogue and plenty of intense drama, its violent scenes are few and brief, but very bloody or brutal. There is also some nudity in one scene and many graphic verbal references to sexual immorality. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® can’t recommend SEXY BEAST to anyone.