You couldn’t ask for a more delicious setup: Colin Diamond (Winstone) has just discovered that his wife (Joanne Whalley) has been getting it on with a sexy French waiter (Poupaud). His pals (Hurt, McShane, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane) kidnap the poor bastard and lock him in a clothes cabinet—that eponymous, metaphorically charged chest—to await Colin’s retribution. But the cast to die for is almost entirely wasted in this machismo-marinated slab of Brit-crime nastiness.
It’s not the words, courtesy of Sexy Beast writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto, so much as the pedestrian look that first-time director Malcolm Venville has settled for. Frame by frame, the camera always seems to be in the wrong place to effectively capture the mostly single-set action, which has a habit of killing the performers’ respective rhythms. There are surface pleasures inherent in watching Ian McShane play gay (“What I do with my nine-and-a-half is no concern of yours,” he quips) or listening to John Hurt—who bears the sidesplitting sobriquet Old Man Peanut—profanely dissect Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah. But they quickly dissipate due to the leaden imagery and editing. Even Winstone’s teary-eyed soul-searching—the actor could play this tortured role in his sleep—barely registers. Like everyone else, he’s just striking aggressive poses with no purpose.—Keith Uhlich
Opens Fri; Village East. Find showtimes
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