For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
Johnny flees Manchester for London, to avoid a beating from the family of a girl he has raped. There he finds an old girlfriend, and spends some time homeless, spending much of his time ranting at strangers, and meeting characters in plights very much like his own.
How to review your favourite film, or even worse, how to review your favourite film when that film is Mike Leigh's Naked?
Naked starts of rough and only gets bleeker. But that's only a small part of what makes this a masterpiece.
First and foremost Naked is abouth David Thewlis' character Johnny, unenmployed both by choice and by circumstance, who personifies the ugly side most commonly shoved under the carpet in favour of the success stories. Yes, we're talking post-Thatcher Britain, but as far as I can tell there's many similairities to present time, and the world Leigh shows us is not limited to a certain era. But it might be limited to big cities.
Johnny is a man who…
Naked couldn't be more apt a title. Each character is stripped down to their core, sheerly acting out of impulse, and unable to hide behind any realm of theatrics. Urges come to their externally once simply well-posed selves and consume them, but not out of a blatant choice, more so just a dwindling down respect for conformity. Beings mope around the streets East London, unafraid to vent because Thatcher's era has ended and the aftermath is an individually segregated bustle. There Mike Leigh sets Johnny to his bleak Salinger-esque odyssey into the peeled-back essence of brokenness.
The nakedness isn't limited to strictly the people. Leigh seems to take everything down to an encapsulation to bareness; the walls inside the seedy…
It's difficult to figure out where to begin with Naked as there's so much to be unpacked within each of its chapters. To strip it down to the basics, the film is about an everyday philosopher named Johnny who both questions and embodies life's endless hardships. A whiskered and skinny David Thewlis plays this deep-thinker whose bad life choices are etched onto his scruffy, unwashed face. He's a thoroughly beaten down individual and a vagrant but his lack of definitive back-story makes him all the more enigmatic.
Mike Leigh's films have a kind of anti-realism to them. They're so ripped around the edges and grimy that they transcend the worst lifestyle you can possibly comprehend. This sounds like the most…
Naked is the perfect specimen of a film where the sum equals the parts. That may sound easy to do, but I've never seen a film do it better than this one does. When I say that, I don't mean that it's exactly as good as the camera work, the script, the acting, directing and so forth lead to. I mean that every aspect of this film perfectly reflects the character and the world he sees.
The camera work is fairly straightforward and stays pretty much out of the way. It's involved enough to create the sense of motion in the dialogue or pacing of the mind of the character but without ever being distracting. Thewlis, for his part, plays…
Years ago, the first time I saw this, I watched it dozens and dozens of times in a row because I loved it so much. It took me awhile to get over my little Naked addiction. I take that back, not an addiction, but It's an obsession I'll admit.
I think that obsession has returned but can you blame me?
Ok you can blame me, but whether it's the first time or the the 100th time (it's probably the 666th time I've seen this, just a guess) I've always loved this film. I love the philosophy within the rich dialogue. I love how no matter how many times I see this, I still get lost in the dialogue. Always manages…
Officially in my 'Dammit Shawn, why did you wait so long to watch this' category.
David Thewlis acts the shit out of the leading role and rockets his character Johnny into consideration for one of my all time favorite characters in the history of cinema. That's not saying he's likeable...he's absolutely anything but likeable; but my God is he fascinating. What I wouldn't give to see a couple more hours of him simply walking around empty streets at night and striking up conversations with random people.
This really is a dialogue film at it's heart. Much of the plot seems secondary, but when the dialogue is so bursting with wit and intelligence; there's not much else you need.
Took four or five times over the last few years to finally finish the damn thing, but I liked it a lot more than I expected. As a depiction of a completely unlikable character and as a deconstruction of cleverness in general and the British wit in particular I thought it was brilliant. The thread about the rapist landlord felt really pointless, though, as if only to give us someone to like even less than the protagonist.
(The commentary seemed to imply that Leigh felt there was diverging about the character we were supposed to grow to like or something, which seems nuts to me.)
When the main charcter of a film commits heinous acts repeatedly and unapologetically and yet you are still drawn and feel sorry for them the director has completed the ultimate balancing act. Naked is full of sorrow and regrets but the underlying humor in the dialogue brought about from the brilliant yet homeless lead makes the movie much more digestible than the usual dreary slog through the life of poverty. A tough watch, I'm still unsure if I enjoyed the film but it is worth watching as long as you don't mind having your day ruined.
Despite several arresting sequences and an admirable dedication to maintaining an oppressively bleak, nightmarish tone, this movie is the cinematic equivalent of being trapped on a crowded bus next to a drug-addled homeless person who doesn't shut up for two hours. After the novelty of the experience wears off maybe 10 minutes in, pity soon turns to irritation and then finally all you can think about is being able to get off as soon as possible so you can take a long shower and curl up in a fetal position for the next day and a half.
Now here's a film that understands the tragedy/comedy of life. When I saw Killer Joe, I thought that its comedy was a dark as could be possible to consume. But here's something that equals that, but with an entirely different mentality. That film almost delighted in punishing its characters, it presented all their stupidity for us to laugh at, but here it's a case of recognising that the comedy is often present in the most dire situations. When Johnny is wandering around London, he's in some odyssey of contempt and every step he takes through these streets is painful to watch because every time it looks like it's hurting him. In every way possible. But he encounters many a colourful…
At once, completely plotless and relentlessly fascinating.
David Thewlis delivers a standout performance, but also portrays the closest to a realistic character in Naked, a somewhat aimless, self-indulgent film heavy with, to borrow from Woody Allen, nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm and orgasm.
Calling this bleak is an understatement
It's certainly Mike Leigh's darkest and complex film to date. Not for the faint of heart.
I'm unsure as to whether I hate this movie or enjoyed... I don't know whether it's funny or sad, whether it's too long or just the right length, whether it's too silly or too smart.
I JUST DON'T KNOW PEOPLE!!!
- Donnie Darko
- Morvern Callar
- Irma Vep
- Miami Blues
- Babe: Pig in the City
- Citizen Kane
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Tokyo Story
- The Rules of the Game
- Grand Illusion
- Seven Samurai
- The Lady Vanishes
- The 400 Blows
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 186/760 (24%)