Can I get an argument/examples from the film?
I’m tempted to just say ‘watch the movie again’, but that would sound like a cop out. So…
- Did the character change at all during the film? Did he come to any sort of realization about himself or anything else?
Most people make the mistake of regarding character development as a character actually changing. However, character development can also be revealing more about the character to the audience. Although it seems you’re only asking about the former, I think Don Logan in Sexy Beast is an excellent example of character development in the latter sense of the word.
But as to whether he changes, I’d say he certainly does. For starters, he has a grab bag of terror tactics, ranging from explosive to conniving, from simply yelling to carefully targeting someone’s weaknesses.
Before the movie has ended, he is driven to confess love and vulnerability, which are pretty significant changes, even if they’re motivated by a shotgun blast to the gut. But even before then, I seem to recall he hints to Gal that he feels like he’s been abandoned now that Gal has moved to Spain to go straight. Doesn’t he even say he doesn’t want Gal to be happy? He behaves, at times, like a jilted lover. In the script and Kingsley’s performance, there are hints of someone weak, afraid, and hurt. Which is exactly how he ends up at the end.
- Was the character’s role in the film to be anything more than a big sharp stick in Gal’s ass to make him do the heist?
You do realize, don’t you, that Gal doesn’t do the heist because of Don’s bullying? One of the movie’s great reveals (great because we probably don’t even need it to be revealed) is that he goes on the heist precisely because he didn’t cave in to Don. Instead, we find out he goes because he has to cover for standing up to Don, who is killed by his wife.
Don Logan’s role isn’t just a motivation for another character’s action. Just as he’s a psychic counterpart to Gal, an id to Gal’s aging bloated superego, he is also a physical counterpart: thin, short, bald, beady-eyed. He represents a vicious past that Gal is trying to leave. He is male-ness, poised against Gal’s wife (who, I would say, is ultimatley the most important motivator in the movie) and a sign of infidelity between Gal’s friends. He is a foil to Teddy, the cool and calm gangster back in London. He is the personification of the boulder that rolls into Gal’s pool and, by the time the movie is over, the literal incarnation of that boulder.
In the meantime, what did you find literary about it?
See above. But I’d say it’s main claim to being literary – this might be kind of cheating – is that’s it’s driven by the inner choices of the characters rather than by events. The heist itself is a sideshow to what happens that night by the pool.
Instead, Sexy Beast is about things that are hard to show in a movie without flashbacks or three hour running times: past relationships. Why is Gal so in love with his wife? What has he done and seen that makes him reluctant to go back to London? Why is Don so intent on bring Gal on board? And why is everyone so scared of Don Logan? These aren’t spelled out. They are established and accepted through character development, which I think of as more of a literary than a cinematic device.
Perhaps I shouldn’t put such a hard divide between the two, but it’s been a long dull summer, movie-wise, with character development that consists of Tom Cruise watching a hologram of his dead son and Mel Gibson being told by his dying wife how to defeat alien invaders.
So there you have it. Sexy Beast isn’t my favorite movie or anything, but I liked it quite a bit. If you see it a second time, I look forward to hearing what you think. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s cool. But I’m surprised someone would describe as two-dimensional either Kingsley’s performance (as Bub said) or the character of Don Logan (as you said). Suffice to say, I disagree. :)