The Criterion Collection
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One of the essential films of the 1990s, Mike Leigh's brilliant and controversial "Naked" stars David Thewlis as Johnny, a charming, eloquent, and relentlessly vicious drifter in London. Rejecting all those who would care for him, the volcanic Johnny hurls himself into a nocturnal odyssey through the city, colliding with a succession of the desperate and the dispossessed and scorching everyone in his path. With a virtuoso script and raw performances by Thewlis and costars Katrin Cartlidge and Lesley Sharp, Leigh's panorama of England's crumbling underbelly is a showcase of black comedy and doomsday prophecy, and was the winner of the best director and actor prizes at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.
- Audio commentary by director Mike Leigh and actors David Thewlis and Katrin Cartlidge
- Exclusive new video introduction by filmmaker Neil LaBute
- The Conversation, a BBC program with author Will Self interviewing Leigh
- Original theatrical trailer
- New essay by film critic Derek Malcolm
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The relationships that are manifested through this work of art are also carefully crafted to perfection as well; a film with a total of four main characters drives this film's run time of (128 minutes) into what feels like a nano second.
Our beloved protagonist, Johnny, will garner the majority of the attention and rightfully so because he is so entertaining and easy to fall in love with; Johnny is raw, incredibly intelligent, witty, voluble, gregarious and highly charming. Johnny is a mere vagabond; a drifter; a true conversationist in every sense who converses with people on all different levels of society; he is a criminal on the run and yet so attractively likable.
The consequence of this criminal act moves Johnny like a magnet to it's opposite pole, or in this case, to Louis's flat in London (Johnny's ex-girlfriend)
After being invited inside by Sophie, one of Louise's roommates. It is here that we are delightfully invited into Johnny's outlook on life, time, space, technology and human nature.
The owner of the flat, Jeremy, is about as despicable and chauvinistic as a male can get. This is more plainly manifested through his treatment of women and material possessions. To Jeremy, women are less than material objects but are designed for humiliation and sexual abuse. He interchanges women faster than a politician exchanges handshakes at a campaign rally. Jeremy's brief appearances are powerful as he abuses his role as a landlord with impunity as well as dominating women with his wealth. His complete disregard for people's privacy along with his general outlook on life is appalling and highly disturbing indeed. Jeremy's character is immediately and appropriately defined when he is receiving a massage from a woman and candidly asks her, "do you think women like getting raped"?
Jeremy's distasteful traits are further enhanced when he shares the same space with Sophie. Unlike Louise, Sophie is mentally weak and submissive but strikingly attractive in her own quirky sort of way as Jeremy confesses to her. Sophie lives very much in the present or day-to-day sort to speak. She is by far the least dominating character in the film. Her attraction to Johnny is instantaneous and his interaction with Sophie truly exposes her neediness and emotional attachment.
Louise is the alpha female of the flat. She is the only female who is able to directly challenge Jeremy's personality. Her relationship with Sophie can be best described as delicately calculated. They are not close in any emotional sense, more like an economical one, but nonetheless, they make the best of living with each other. Interestingly enough, there relationship evolves into something a little deeper when Jeremy feels it necessary to spend the night.
The relationships between these four main characters are captivating because all of their performances are convincing and seem so very real. Observing Johnny's interaction with people is entertaining and very enlightening; no one is left unscathed when sharing the same space with him, not even the mentally unstable. The real power in this film lies in the main character, Johnny, and the director's ability to invoke sympathy and compassion for a man who has committed such a horrid criminal act of rape.
By the end of the film we forget about Johnny's mistakes, in fact, we are so interested in Johnny's past life and where the forces of nature will take him that we don't want to see him leave. It is quite saddening actually. Initially, Johnny begins with a clear concrete destination, towards the end of the film, he becomes a free-floating leaf during a fall breeze in the streets of London once again because According to Johnny, he has an infinite amount of places to go, but it's where he stays is the problem.
On a side note, I feel it would be unfair not too mention the beautiful score to this film by Andrew Dickson, another masterpiece from start to finish. It's too bad you cannot purchase this anywhere as I have tried many times with failure.
His Johnny is not a nice man, not by any sense of the word. He is rude, demeaning, cocky, and doesn't care a lick about anyone, including himself I am sure. But he is also intelligent and funny in a sort of sadistic way, and I found that I could not help identifying with this character. What a brilliant piece of art and look at humanity this film is, kudos to Mike Leigh for making such a rough and tumble look at the darker side of things.
My husband recently bought me the Criterion Collection Naked and I even got him to watch, and later admit to enjoying, the movie. I would comment on my favorite parts, but there are too many to point out. Every supporting actor in this really makes each scene different and each has its own feel and chemistry between the actors. All involved did a wonderful job.
Oh and to the Remus Lupin fans (which I am of course, fangirl to the end!), there is a joke in there about werewolves that is pretty funny, given that he made this movie years before Azkaban. :)
This movie is explicitly sexual, including many scenes of rape, violence, and vulgar language, so be prepared for that. Although, for a movie so dark and serious, there are some very funny moments!
Brilliantly written, with award winning acting and succulent morbidity, I give Naked five well deserved stars, and I hope that you love it as much as I do!