This is one of my favourite films. I don't think that you can necessarily call it realistic. Johnny in particular seems to be one of those characters that you sometimes see in psychological dramas in film, theatre and literature who embodies too many extreme characteristics in his mode of living and his thought processes and experiences too many hyperintense situations in the short timescale of the film's action to be wholly believable. So you probably won't meet a cynical, sharply witty and intelligent and cruel f**k-up quite like that even from Manchester. But I don't think that that detracts from the film as some of the other commenters seem to feel - I don't mind a bit of staginess! David Thewlis's performance fills me with awe. His speech, his facial expressions, the way he moves and holds his body are electrifying. He is an incredibly damaged character who uses his (sometimes inhumanly) sharp wit and intelligence to cruelly torment and exploit those around him instead of trying to use his obvious gifts in a more positive way to help himself and the other human flotsam that he encounters. For all his strength of will and powers of endurance, he is weak because he revels in his nihilism and his desire to crush other unfortunates. He could never have a genuinely open mutual compassionate relationship with another human being. But thanks to the brilliance of DT he becomes one of the most magnetic screen characters ever. I love Mike Leigh and I love David Thewlis (he always plays unusual characters but not often misanthropes - the man is a great actor). I love this movie. 'Nuff said.