Matt Montada’s review published on Letterboxd:
Naked would have to be one of the bleakest films ever. From the setting, themes, and characters that are depicted on-screen, it makes for a film that might be hard to stomach for most. However, from my experience watching this, it would have to be one of the most rewarding instances of me watching something so dark, as this is a film that not only challenges the viewer, but provides him/her with a lot to dissect from a storytelling and thematic perspective.
As i’ve mentioned before, since the film has a tone and message as dark as night, it also touches upon bleak themes of existentialism and provides clever social satire and commentary (simultaneously) on a society where everyone is not only a complete dick, but is one that is not willing to listen to those with a hint of emotional vulnerability or engaging intellect. This is brilliantly illustrated throughout this film’s story, as the main character of Johnny (played outstandingly by David Thewlis) is depicted as a drifter who may be viewed as a sex-hungry, egotistical, and reckless individual on the outside, but on the inside, he is a man who is both willing to showcase tenderness to the people he meets and knows, but also his intelligence by talking to them about his multiple amount of theories about human life, the future, and even the end of world.
It absolutely astonished me to think that all of these elements were able to come together and work so well in a film that could’ve felt mean-spirited without any purpose behind it. This is thanks to Mike Leigh’s superb directing and writing, which manages to take a story like this and add an exuberant amount of thematic nuance and astuteness to it while also providing his characters with engaging development/arcs that are not only fascinating to watch, but also tie into the themes of the story perfectly. The performances, especially the aforementioned David Thewlis, also add to these elements of characterizations by putting as much passion and emotional weight to their acting as possible, thus resulting in a film where i felt like i was watching real-life people going through as opposed to characters going through arcs.
I also must give my compliments to the technical aspects of the film. The cinematography and production values, in particular, really stood out to me. This film’s cinematography features a visual style that’s akin to the visual that would be found in a film noir or an Alfred Hitchcock film. The dark style of lighting, precise camera angles/movements, and meticulous framing/composition matched with the desolate costumes and denuded sets made for a film that was not only a treat from a visual perspective, but is one of those instances where this particular visual brilliance matched the film’s tone, established setting, and arid approach to storytelling. The musical score also manages to stand out by being an excellent storytelling tool while also standing out on its own by being a really good score.
All-in-all, as I’ve mentioned before, Naked will make for a challenging watch, but that’s what i love so much about it. It is a film that manages to be bold in the themes it chooses to explore and the story it tells, but is even more daring in its execution. However, it is one that is of high reward for those who are willing to have the balls to sit through it. It manages to feature strong filmmaking, a sharp sense of dark humor, and an alluring story that is not afraid to take an approach to storytelling that is not too present in filmmaking/storytelling anymore while also tackling themes that not only make for a lot to discuss about this film, but also feel more timely than ever. Really hope that more people get the chance discover this audacious cinematic piece in the future. It truly deserves it.