Film Reviews, Short Review

Naked (1993)

4/4

Few films have ever plumbed the ugliest depths of the human soul as deeply as Mike Leigh’s masterpiece. Naked is an ugly, vile, horrendous work, in the best possible sense, opening with the protagonist Johnny (David Thewlis in what is surely one of the all-time greatest screen performances) committing sexual assault, stealing a car and fleeing to an ex’s house in London. The desolation he finds there is just as great; his ex, Louise (Lesley Sharp), is a bored office worker; flatmate Sophie (the late, great Katrin Cartlidge) is a drugged-out mess with no future prospects; both women are sexually terrorised by what may or may not be the landlord (Greg Cuttwell, playing Thatcher’s dream yuppie to sickening perfection). Johnny is an empty shell of a man, spouting philosophically ramblings to anyone who will look at him, but Leigh acknowledges that there is a glimmer of intelligence and wit to the man. It’s what makes the film so compelling, the knowledge that deep down, in a different society, Johnny could have turned out better. That he doesn’t is a scathing indictment of Thatcherite Britain, and it’s an observation that still holds just as true today.

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