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Naked (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

The brilliant and controversial Naked, from director Mike Leigh (Topsy-Turvy), stars David Thewlis (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) as Johnny, a charming and eloquent but relentlessly vicious drifter. Rejecting anyone who might care for him, the volcanic Johnny hurls himself through a nocturnal odyssey around London, colliding with a succession of other desperate and dispossessed people, and scorching everyone in his path. With a virtuoso script and raw performances from Thewlis and costars Katrin Cartlidge (Before the Rain) and Lesley Sharp (The Full Monty), Leigh’s picture of England’s underbelly is an amalgam of black comedy and doomsday prophecy that took the best director and best actor prizes at the 1993 Cannes International Film Festival.

Special Features

Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director

Audio commentary by Leigh and actors David Thewlis and Katrin Cartlidge

Exclusive video interview with director Neil LaBute

An episode of the BBC program The Art Zone where Will Self interviews Leigh

“The Short and Curlies,” a short comedy from 1982 directed by Leigh

Original theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film critics Derek Malcolm and Amy Taubin

Product Details

  • Actors: David Thewlis, Katrin Cartlidge, Lesley Sharp
  • Directors: Mike Leigh
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: July 12, 2011
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004WPYO4C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,209 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Top Customer Reviews

My first contact with Mike Leigh's film Naked came with a series of soundbites that DJ's at the University of Maryland's college radio station had sampled and turned into station ID's. These included several monologues by David Thewlis' frustrated and angry protagonist, Johnny, including his rants about the coming apocalypse. This prompted me to seek Naked out on VHS, and I was both troubled and fascinated by Leigh's film.

Nearly twenty years later, Criterion has released naked on Blu-Ray, for the first time giving me the chance to see the film as it was intended. I'm struck by the composition and stark cinematography -- both of which hold up remarkably well, whereas many other films from the 1990's do not. And although the film documents a very specific time at the turn of the century in economically-depressed post-Thatcher England, it is still very relavent today.

Naked centers around Johnny, a young man from Manchester fleeing the repercussions of an act of brutality that occurs within seconds of the film's opening. He arrives in London, where he calls on his ex-girlfriend and her flatmate, developing a physical relationship with one as he longs for a romantic relationship with the other.

We then follow Johnny through the next forty-eight hours of his life, drifting through nighttime London and disrupting the lives of the various people he encounters until he inevitably returns to his ex-girlfriend's flat. Johnny's odyssey is at once satirical, tragic and so unflinchingly brutal that it becomes difficult to watch.

There is also a parallel storyline involving the owner of the flat, an affluent sociopath named Jeremy who is perhaps one step away from American Psycho's Patrick Bateman.
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Having seen this movie upon its release in 1993, I remember seeing a tough, brutal little picture with a great leading performance by David Thewlis. I didn't actually remember liking it, however. Thirteen years later, I've had the pleasure of revisiting Mike Leigh's "Naked" in its Criterion issue and five years hence--it's back in Blu-ray. And being older and more savvy, I've discovered the film as if it were my first time viewing it. And what a lot of pleasures there are to be had in "Naked."

First, David Thewlis is brilliant! The ferocity of his performance captivated audiences around the world and won him Cannes and other acting honors, but no Oscar nomination. I would contend that if this movie were released now, with Mike Leigh and David Thewlis better known and respected, the outcome would have been much different. All the performers bring a realness to the film that make it so effective, but it is Thewlis' show.

Thewlis' Johnny is a despicable human being. He is rude, violent, petulant, unwashed, selfish, and totally at odds with anything even resembling humanity. He proceeds to make his way through London meeting up with various characters each more loathsome or desperate then the last. It is a bleak portrait, at best. Every woman, inexplicably, is drawn to Johnny. I mean--what a catch, huh? Some might label the film misogynistic, and its treatment of women isn't glamorous--but I'd contend that the men are all ogres as well which helps balance things out.

So why is this movie great? Sounds like a nasty piece of work (and it is). But aside from the blistering performances, the film is scathingly and brutally funny. The impeccably literate script actually has something to say about the modern world, about philosophy, about the human condition.
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Mike Leigh's 1993 film NAKED is a drama on sexual relations -- how men hurt women, how some women accept that hurt out of low self-esteem and a desire to be wanted or supported. It is distinguished by its remarkably lifelike characters. Most of the film was worked out in improvisations for several months before shooting began. Leigh wanted his actors to create elaborate back stories for their characters, fully living inside of them so that when the cameras started rolling they would be completely convincing.

As the film opens, Johnny (David Thewlis) has to flee Manchester after a sexual encounter with a married woman turns into rape and she threatens to set her husband after him. Stealing a car, he heads to London to crash at his ex-girlfriend Louise (Lesley Sharp), gets involved with her flatmate Sophie (Katrin Cartlidge), and spends a couple of nights homeless in London. Interspliced with this are scenes of Jeremy, a rich real estate broker whose sexual conquests serve as an upper-class counterpart to Johnny's own. Naturally the viewer is led to wonder what will happen when these two men meet.

Something is wrong with Johnny, he answers anything said to him with a rambling torrent of words, a logorrhea that is a form of intellectual bullying; this deeply wounded man seems to feel the best defense against the cruelties of the world is a good offense. Only 27, Johnny is so wasted that he is taken for much older. In this, Thewlis's performance is one of the masterful screen portrayals of an eccentric or mentally ill person, like Dustin Hoffmann in RAIN MAN or Peter Sellers in BEING THERE.

But all of the characters here are memorable, and my thoughts have often gone back to them in the time since I saw this film.
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