Naked (1993) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
123 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
One of the best films of the Nineties
Dodger-918 October 1999
Having a bad day? Then check out Mike Leigh's masterpiece; the tale of Johnny, a mid twenties Mancunian drifter who heads down to London (having nicked a car) and tracks down an old girlfriend. He seduces Sophie (the excellent Katrin Cartlidge), unleashes a display of venom on his old lover, Louise (Lesley Sharp) and staggers off into the night when both women become too much for him to bear. His odyssey takes him to a world of the homeless, including an illiterate Scot (Trainspotting's Ewen Bremner) and his long suffering girlfriend (Susan Vidler) and a lonely nightwatchman (Peter Wight) guarding empty space. It's during this lengthy scene that David Thewlis proves to be one of the most versatile actors of his generation, delivering a speech of bleak complexity and pre-millennial doom that leaves most viewers reeling. Juxtaposed with Johnny is Louise's rapist Yuppie landlord (Greg Cruttwell), perhaps the weakest character in the movie. He's rich, crass and brutal, but also appears to be a sneering cartoon character, overshadowed by Johnny's hard edged intellect. Naked is the flip side of Leigh's previous movie, Life is Sweet. A bitter tale of loneliness, depression and Thatcher's wasted youth that seemed to be forgotten by most home grown film-makers in the mad rush to emulate Wall Street. Had a bad day? Then this is the equivalent of the Blues for the eyes and food for thought. Cheers Mr Leigh.
137 out of 159 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Savage, Brutal, Brilliant.
El_Farmerino_Esq2 June 2006
There are precious few movies to which I would give a perfect rating and none so difficult to justify as Naked. Indeed, when I mention the depth of my appreciation for the film most who have seen it tend to reel in horror whilst deriding its unpleasantness...

So how do I justify it? I could witter on about the brilliance of David Thewlis' performance, the excellent support cast, the devastatingly witty dialogue and Leigh's assured direction until the cows came home, but this still wouldn't totally do it. I can't say a lot about the plot because, well, there isn't a great deal of plot to speak of. So what is it?

I'll tell you what it is: it's the honesty of it. The brutal, searing, sickening honesty. Here is a film unafraid to hold a mirror up to the dark, venal, destructive underbelly of our society - a film that portrays relentlessly and unflinchingly a side of our character which we'd prefer to simply sweep under the carpet. It takes everything that is immoral, degenerate and depraved in modern society and smears it all over the screen in a grubby orgy of loathing. It is not simply a movie with teeth but one with rabid, venomous, acid-tipped fangs, tearing and gnashing at our pompous ideas about our own natures.

There are many movies which are fantastically enjoyable and make for a sterling night out with friends and family. This is not one of them. Naked is disturbing, unpleasant, frightening and utterly bleak. It is also quite brilliant.
93 out of 113 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Doctor_Bombay3 February 1999
Without a doubt, Mike Leigh's Naked is one of the most brilliant examples of filmmaking I have ever seen.

David Thewlis is nothing short of genius as the aimless Johnny, a combustible combination of brilliance and depression, who's mere presence in anyone's purview contaminates and destroys with the effectiveness of Round-Up.

Mesmerizing and fast-paced, there is no shortage of excellence in the smaller plots and characters: Greg Cruttwell is spectacular as the pompous, nouveau-riche Jeremy, and the two female leads, Leslie Sharp and Katrin Cartlidge provide well balanced juxtaposition as two very different femmes damaged.

Not for the faint of heart, Naked will test one's own philosophy, and leave you stripped bare.
64 out of 78 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Razor-sharp social commentary - although too harsh for many stomachs.
Pedro_H6 November 2004
An unemployed - but intelligent - social misfit goes on the run to London following a back alley rape, but finds The Capital just as desperate and alienating as his native Manchester.

This is one of the hardest films I have ever had to review. Topics such as urban alienation, career-choice unemployment, leeching, homelessness, drug taking and sexual violence would normally send me running for cover; but what we have here is so well constructed and so skilfully acted that it transcends it own headline topics.

This is a classic case of car-wreck film making: You don't praise or celebrate much, yet it is deeply fascinating and even hypnotic. People are tap dancing on the edge of a metaphorical cliff - some are there of there of their own free will.

Director Mike Leigh's semi-improvisational style doesn't always work, but here it really delivers something unique. You feel that you are watching real life even though too much happens in too short a time period for that to be the case.

This is a wandering odyssey film and features a central performance - by David Thewlis - that ranks along the best ever witnessed in cinema. How the Oscar people could have (totally) turned their back on a performance as a good as this puzzles; although the film and actor won prizes in Cannes and New York.

This is the first film I have ever seen that takes on sexual coercion in a head on fashion. People that have put themselves in a chemical or social situation where someone has something over them. The greasy upper crust landlord (Greg Cruttwell) might seem over-the-top to many but I know a few people actually like that!

(For the record his actions would be deemed illegal in real life - if you have seen the film.)

What happens to the on-screen people the day after this film ends? Has anything really changed? For Johnny - our central anti-hero - it will be just another day to duck and dive, avoid all work and wind people up using his extensive back reading.
102 out of 128 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
ajrussell7311 April 2004
"Don't waste your life" A security guard advises the nihilistic anti hero Johnny. This film is macabre, raw, and with dialogue as sharp as anything ever witnessed on celluloid. Mike Leigh created a dark brooding magnum opus with this portrait of early 90's London. His partnership with David Thewlis, who creates a fascinating and ribald character is simply astonishing. It is a performance that explores our very humanity.

This film investigates the existential angst as portrayed by the protagonist Johnny of what is to survive; the main character gradually reveals himself before us stripped of pretence and standing "naked" . Johnny's diatribes tinged with apocalyptic tones upon the nature of the universe and beyond are breath taking. Sex and violence under pin the narrative of this film, and with Jonny adhering to no personal boundaries he embarks upon a journey that takes the viewer upon an uneasy and ultimately rewarding journey .

The film is important as it shows the true power of the cinematic medium , and as a cultural reference to the pap produced by Hollywood; exposing the neutered offerings mainstream cinema is plagued with. This film shows Mike Leigh as a master of his art, expressed by the unique performances he elicits from his cast.

This work of genius will be stumbled across in years to come and be celebrated by later generations for its language, its mood, and its effect which makes us engage in our very existence. A true testament to a magnificent achievement.
119 out of 151 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
thearbiter24 June 2001
In my adult life, this is the one and only film that has ever moved me to tears with its ending. It was like watching Michelangel applying his final daub to the Sistene Chapel, the incomprehensible achievement of a perfect artistic vision, and the attainment of a transcendent brilliance.

For years, I had fantasized about becoming a writer / director, and actually put forth some appreciable effort to that end. This film, Mike Leigh's incomparable, unprecedented masterwork, cured me of that fantasy. He said, and did, in two hours, all that I could have hoped to achieve in an entire career, and it became gapingly obvious to me that I had no business in this medium.

There is no "story" here, except that of the distilled essence of the hopeless pre-Millenial Western man, robbed of the promised nuclear annihilation he had always consciously feared, but subconsciously hoped for, if only to put the world out of its misery. The naked and the lost, the wandering spectre of the sentient living dead, and the pitiful yet mercifully ignorant companions that cross his path.
150 out of 194 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Naked Owns Cinema.
bex_purple25 May 2006
My favourite film of all time and I don't even know why. It not only is repulsive but at the same time hysterically funny. It makes living in London a distorted pleasure as it is on my mind every day as I walk through the city that inspired such a piece. The theories that Johnny comes up with are not only salient but increasingly prophetic and it serves as a reminder to Mike Leighs brilliance that a film ORIGINALLY intended as a Post Thatcherite comment can now be seen as a highly accurate portrait of 21st century Britain. The dialogue is razor sharp and the thoughts and ideas explored may be too 'In Your Face' for some but it is a film that every adult should see. It makes you face what you are and that may make it an uncomfortable experience but the result is, for good or ill, life changing. For that, it is, to me the greatest film of all time.

52 out of 64 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An existential nightmare
Dadge16 October 2001
Not an easy watch, for two reasons: first, this is an uncosmeticized view of 90's England, with little light in the dark; and second, much of the dialogue is difficult for non-Brits to follow. It's easy to spot this is a Mike Leigh film: the gritty realism, working-class characters and improvisation; but it's certainly harder-hitting than the likes of 'Secrets and Lies' or 'Life is Sweet'. But I prefer it to those other films because they suffer from overstylized characterization. What made this one of the best (and most critically-acclaimed) films of the 90s was David Thewlis's bravura performance as Johnny. Johnny is the plot, really. He turns aimless wandering around nocturnal London into an artform, especially the surreal visit with the security guard. Being a fellow northerner, I can see echoes of myself in Johnny, which no doubt adds to the film's appeal for me. But I'd recommend it to any intelligent viewer, not least because of the contrast it throws up between nihilism and nothingarianism.
56 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Powerful, wearing, tough to stomach yet has to be seen
ginger_sonny31 August 2004
One of the most powerful British films of the 90s. Mike Leigh directs David Thewlis in an unrelenting, uncompromisingly cynical portrayal of self-loathing and alienation

In this, Leigh's toughest, most uncompromising work for cinema, Thewlis turns in a stunningly uningratiating performance. He utterly immerses himself in the role of Johnny, an articulate, disenfranchised angry young man, who's escaped Manchester after a bit of rough outdoor sex turns into something a lot like rape.

Johnny flees to London to hook up with an old girlfriend Louise (Sharp). While wandering around the city he gives free rein to his unfocused rage and indulges in some further degrading sexual encounters, notably with the dippy and compliant Sophie (Cartlidge).

This is brilliant stuff, but hard to stomach. Once again Leigh proves what a big problem he has with London's bourgeoisie, particularly with his portrayal of the smooth, sexually exploitative Jeremy (Cruttwell).

Leigh gives us so little to cling to here. There is barely a symphathetic character aside from security guard Brian (Wright), who dreams of escaping to Ireland. So the viewer is stuck with the edgy autodidact Johnny. It's an immensely powerful film about self-loathing and urban alienation, but, Thewlis' remarkable performanace notwithstading, staying the two hour distance is asking for a lot, even from die-hard Leigh fans.
35 out of 46 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
mew-412 January 2003
If you liked Pi or The Cruise then you should check out Naked. It's an amazing exploration of a man descended into nihilism, who leaves victims of his intellectual bullying (and misogyny) everywhere. No, it's not PC. Yes, it feels so real. Sorry to gush, but I loved this film.

I like American Existential Anti-Heroes. I wasn't really prepared to confront an English Existential Anti-Hero. Wow, what a different take on a similar stimulus.

This film is a monument to gritty realism, without being self-conscious about it. You can taste this movie. But you never feel like it was faked or forced. The camera work and the lighting never get in the way. I usually notice such things, and here it was invisible and completely immersive. David Thewlis throws every bit of his body into this movie. Even the great closing credit scene.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out the fantastic black humor, especially since some people said it wasn't funny! Sophie wails in the most sustained way I have ever seen in drama. And it's hysterical, even as you're hurting with her. The frantic Scottish kid made me rewind again and again. While I agree that the "landlord" character could have been over the top, his reaction to Johnny flailing on the floor made me laugh out loud. The two characters are really barely distinguishable but that one is a dandy and the other has a fondness for the gutter. As the poster-hanger beats the crap out of our anti-hero you can't help but laugh. And then you nod along as Louise tells him he had it coming in her terrific and constant deadpan (with an occasional suggestion of a smile).

As our protagonist points out, in the end, all the books, and all the learning, and all the discussion, still don't help you understand the point of the cruel joke of life. Yes, it's an old dorm-room discussion that freshman are still having for the 1st time. But that doesn't make the question and the questioning any less desperate. It is human to cry out in pain, even when it's self-inflicted. The references to making a choice for self-destruction are throughout the dialogue, but not so much so that they hit you in the head.

Naked is depressing and euphoric at the same time. Yes it's often "awful", but how can you not cheer for someone who loves life and is trying his hardest to fully engage it? And not one character (or question) gets a pat Hollywood ending or moral -- woo-hoo!

This movie is why people can call film a legitimate art form. It provokes thought, it is drama, and it is beautiful. It thrills me.

Someone asked if the dialogue was improvised. According to IFC, Mike Leigh rehearsed with the cast for 11 weeks before writing the script, which then came to only 25 pages.
54 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Another rave review!
mikeharrison8 February 2001
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.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
David Thewlis delivers a tour de force performance that will always stay with you.
DesbUK10 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Now available on DVD in the UK for the first time, it's worth revisiting Mike Leigh's 4th cinema feature, 'Naked'. Originally released in the autumn of 1993, it won the Best Director and Best Actor prizes at that year's Cannes Film Festival. If Leigh's newest film 'Happy Go Lucky' is of a sunny and optimistic disposition, then 'Naked' is a far bleaker, inhumane and unsympathetic appraisal of London life in the drab and economically depressed early 1990s. It's a film of dialogue and characters - there's no plot. 'Low Expectations' might be an alternative title. Set over a period of just three days, 'Naked' has at its heart a compelling performance by David Thewlis as Johnny, a Mancunian drifter first seen having unsavoury sex with a unsavoury woman in a Manchester back alley. He flees the scene, steals a car and drives South to London to begin an odyssey through Dick Pope's darkly photographed nighttime streets and a depressed and colourless wintry London.

Johnny colludes with no one and belongs to nowhere. He evokes no sympathy but is also not unlikeable. He is always unwashed, unshaven and untidy Only 27, he is also in the process of physical degeneration. But Johnny is no uncouth yob or waster, but a firestorm of intellect driven by the Bible and the prophecies of Nostradamus. Between scrounged bites of food, this is his existence.

Johnny arrives on the doorstep of the flat of his former lover Louise (Lesley Sharp) and her doped up friend Sophie (Katrin Cartlidge). Johnny and Sophie share a cigarette, a joint and then have brutal sex on the sofa. Johnny leaves the flat and wanders through the night, first encountering two homeless Scots, then Brian (Peter Wright), a lonely security guard guarding an empty office block. Together the two men wander through the building in a spellbinding set piece of that is dazzlingly delivered by Thewlis at breakneck speed as he rants about the inevitable apocalypse in 1999 and how humanity will evolve from it's present state: "The end of the world is nigh, Bri"

Johnny is deeper and more talkative than anyone else. He subsequently encounters a drunken prostitute and a dim girl (Gina McKee). He is then twice beaten up: once in an alley by youths and once by a fly poster. Beaten and bleeding, he returns to Louise's flat only to discover Jeremy (Greg Cutwell) has taken up residence. He is the Yuppie landlord, something in the city and an excruciating caricature. Jeremy is a habitual misogynist, first seen asking a masseur if women enjoy being raped. He also rapes Sophie, making her wear a nurse's uniform in the process.

At the flat, Johnny has an epileptic fit and regresses back to his abused childhood. Louise threatens to castrate Jeremy with a knife, and has a reconciliation with Johnny. But Johnny does not hang around and is last seen limping off at great speed with £290 of Jeremy's money (which had paid for Sophie's pleasure) in his pocket.

'Naked' is visually and verbally about the abuse of women and a general overview of the intellectual themes of the late 20th century. Women in the film exist mostly to be put upon, whilst Johnny may look like the lowest of the lie, he rises above the rabble with a profound sense of the bigger picture. When Louise asks where he came from, he responds with a rapid fire description of the Big Bang theory. When she asks if he's bored, he then delivers a powerful speech about the problem with people is that they're always so bored - they've had the universe, nature and the living body explained to them and they're bored with it, so what they want now is just cheap thrills and plenty of them.

I kept wondering if the film were made today what would be the targets of Johnny's intellect? Celebrity culture, the war on terror, political spin, reality TV? The film is certainly over long and two episodes (the drunken prostitute and the girl in the café) could have been jettisoned without loosing anything. Thewlis, however, delivers a once in a lifetime performance that stays with the viewer long after - and I mean years after - the film has finished.
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Robert_9021 January 2008
I hadn't seen any of Leigh's prior work before deciding to settle on Naked as a good starter. From what I'd gathered beforehand, I knew I could expect something that could best be described as "a gritty-feeling movie". In hindsight, I don't think you can describe Naked as being "a gritty-feeling movie". You end up describing gritty-feeling movies as being "like Naked".

That statement is pretty true – Naked is as bleak and unforgiving as they come. There are no good guys or any possible chances for redemption. Whenever a glimmer of hope appears during the film, it's obliterated within mere moments. The characters don't undergo any significant changes throughout the film. The film ends in pretty much the same way it begins, probably doomed to repetition until the end of the world. If you sit down to watch this, all I can say is "be prepared". Know what you're getting into.

Although the unforgettable feel of the film could be attributed to its verité style (filmed on the dodgy side of London with very rough-looking film), it could be better attributed to the protagonist himself. David Thewlis gives what's probably his best performance as Johnny, a man with few strengths and countless flaws. His eloquent monologues are roughly balanced by his harsh treatment of others. Johnny has very little respect for anyone or anything and it shows as he inflicts pain (physical or emotional, it doesn't matter to him) on everybody that crosses his path.

As bad as he is, however, he's oddly sympathetic in a way (especially when compared to a landlord who's as callous and sociopathic as he is, possibly more so). In a way, I could actually relate to Johnny (and not just because I have the same coat). He knows how bad he can be and acts accordingly, only because he doesn't believe in anything else or changing his ways. He just exists from day to day, just like any other human being. That's what makes Johnny so compelling – he really is only human. When karma finally catches up to him late in the film, we aren't glad to see him suffer. Johnny is the best kind of character, full of nuance that will make different people love him and hate him for the same reasons.

Even though Naked depends heavily on Johnny's presence, he is not the be-all and end-all of the film. The supporting characters are exceptional – the stand-out roles being Johnny's ex and her flatmate. Watching them try and deal with the sudden arrival of both Johnny and (later on) the landlord is in itself one very compelling subplot. A runner-up would be the security guard on his graveyard shift who engages in a series of debates with Johnny about time, life, evolution and the inevitable Apocalypse.

Needless to say, Naked was one hell of a film to watch. It makes me wonder exactly how I should rate it, if I should rate it. It's not really one of those movies where you just say "Oh yeah, very good, very moving, 4 stars." You're more likely to watch it and afterwards not say anything, just think about it. Those are the exceptional films, and Naked is definitely that – a dark, pessimistic insight into the mind of a human being who treads the fine line between self-destruction and utter dissatisfaction.
14 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Macabre Reality...
gingerkris7 September 2004
I first watched the movie on a recommendation and was hooked on Mike Leigh movies ever after.

Naked does not mess around with polite small talk, No, it truly baptizes the viewer into a gritty, dirty puddle of London which leaves you feeling like taking a shower after your through.

When I watched Naked as a student I had been to London only once, having now lived in the capital for over two years I have seen the dirty underbelly and appreciate the honesty of leigh's film more so now than ever.

I particularly enjoyed 'The wandering Scots', and the 'Security Guard' whom are both lost, yet in very different ways.

Thinking back to the time i watched it i was captivated by the dialog, and the self destructive element that hung like dynamite around our characters. This frustrated me than but now being more mature i can accept it as inevitable for these individuals.

I can honestly say that there are not many movies that make one feel this way, make one reflect and feel so empty looking at Johnys life and future...

I have the utmost respect for all the actors in this film. Yet, it has been a number of years since i have watched it as it is a long embarkation through the soul of human it for the pure genius that is Mike & David but be sure to watch it in good company that has an open mind.

9 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Absolutely Horrible
wheelz0415 August 2005
After reading other user comments raving about how brilliant this film is, I realize I am in the minority for having absolutely hated it.

But people seem to think that if a film contains unsympathetic characters, difficult subject matter, and an unconventional style of storytelling, then it must be a work of true genius. I couldn't agree less.

My wife and I sat through about 40 minutes and she couldn't watch any more. I later went back and finished watching myself to see if it got any better, but alas, it did not. This movie is a self-important piece of garbage full of completely unlikable characters and uncomfortable situations with no emotional payoffs. Johnny is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is, and that also goes for the film itself.

Don't be fooled.
33 out of 60 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
This can be viewed dozens of times.
fedor830 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Mike Leigh's hands-down best movie is defined by clever, snappy dialogue, superb characterizations, and an impeccably chosen cast. It's an unusual drama, with a certain amount of comedy (the way Leigh made his movies before he became boring and repetitious). One moment there is philosophizing (nearly always initiated by Thewlis), and the next moment there's violence. It's a strange mix, but it works flawlessly. The night-time in London is a great backdrop for most of the goings-on.

"Naked" doesn't have a plot in the traditional movie sense, but it never lets up for a second, with its constant influx of new characters, and Johnny's wonderful quick-witted utterings and thoughts. One needs a little while to get used to Johnny's thick Manchester accent, but it's worth it.

I always cringe when someone pretentiously advertises a movie as a "character study", but this movie is one of very few to deserve such an "exalted" labeling.
10 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The omelette stinks
Ali_John_Catterall12 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Naked, as implied by its title, is raw, uncompromising cinema, the least comforting manifestation to date of what Mike Leigh calls his "celebration of human experience"; yet there are also moments of tenderness, necessary chinks of compassion spearing the murk. It is also bitingly, appallingly funny.

The film was borne out of Leigh's then preoccupations with the tension between spiritual and material values, some tougher aspects of the relationship between the sexes, and above all, a profound sense of impending, apocalyptic doom. 'Pre-Millennium Tension', Tricky called it in 1996, for an album steeped in paranoia, "psychic pollution" and regret. "Forever - what does that mean?" asks his lover. "It means we'll manage" Tricky grimly retorts. Manage. For Naked's damaged roster of characters, churning out their faded sexual rituals or wearily braced for more verbal and physical trauma, simply 'managing' would be a desirable state to attain.

As Leigh told 'Cineaste' in 1994, "In so far as Naked is about England, the fabric of society is collapsing. People are insecure, there is a sense of disintegration which is, as much as anything else, a legacy of the Tories." The previous decade's boom and bust had left almost every strata of society reeling, with a great many financially or emotionally ill-equipped for the subsequent recession, the period in which the film is set. It is hardly surprising that more people were admitted into psychiatric care during the 1980s than in any previous decade; subsequently released into communities which no longer existed or didn't care about them.

The Poll Tax levy, fleecing the poorest communities while propping up the richest, had also contributed to more numbers of homeless than ever. And Naked's original remit was to have focused on the street, until Leigh decided the subject was too one-dimensional. "Maggie!" bawls twitching Scots straggler Archie (Ewen Bremner) helplessly, in one of the film's subtler allusions. "She's gone, mate" mutters David Thewlis's Johnny, chief pallbearer of the post-Thatcherite malaise. "Those days are over."

However, Naked ought not to be taken chiefly as a state-of-the-nation polemic: the film working out of a broader European tradition of dark, existential allegory. Here, the homeless are those who have been disenfranchised from family, jobs, values - and us, for we can only guess at their stories, as they stumble like medieval cripples through a heightened, Dante-esquire vision of urban London.

The sole emblematic landmark to be glimpsed is the BT Tower looming high above the horizon: more unreachable communication. Appropriately, for a drama exploring rootlessness and displacement, the Naked City (shot in pitiless bleach-bypass to imbue the film with a grainy, Dickensian quality) has collapsed in on itself, having entered a black hole respecting no spatial perimeters. Johnny's sleepless odyssey through the capital's cafes, empty office blocks and bedroom floors will take him from Soho to Shoreditch in minutes.

Almost everybody in Naked is on the move, arriving or departing, to Andrew Dickson's driving, melancholy score. But rarely digging in, lending the film its picaresque quality - a latter-day pilgrim's progress through the Inferno. As befitting a film dealing with the end of days, mythical and Biblical references abound, from 'The Iliad' to the 'Book Of Revelation': Johnny's number of the Beast 'barcode' rant had been prompted by a pamphlet handed to the actor in the street, and its execution - an astonishing verbal juggling act in silhouette - would take around two dozen takes to perfect.

With his head framed against the halo-making rays of a Roman clock, Johnny is both broken Christ and testing devil, crying out to save souls, to reach somebody - anybody - while simultaneously flagellating them for their crucifying ennui. "Do you believe in God?" he's asked at one juncture. "Of course I believe in God," he snaps back. Faith, or lack of it, is not the issue. The question is: what manner of maker has led us to this point?

All performances here are exemplary, including stunning turns from the late, great Katrin Cartlidge who plays the desperate, self-medicated goth Sophie, and Lesley Sharp, Johnny's ex-girlfriend Louise and Naked's moral compass. In Johnny himself (a slice of Lydon, a shave of Lennon and a dose of Mark E Smith) director and actor would create a complex mix of the callous and compassionate, though rarely without a splenetic machine-gun wit: the survivor's apparatus. Only once will a comeback desert him, when "insecurity guard" Brian tells him: "Don't waste your life."

Thewlis had read the equivalent of a small bookshop to prepare for the part, and the ever-present dog-eared paperbacks in Johnny's satchel are like his theories; things to be picked up, appropriated or stolen, then put down. For the autodidact who expresses his sense of self though words, the permanent removal of those books will precipitate his breakdown.

That breakdown was "more or less real," Thewlis told this writer, years later. "That's how I felt - raging. The origin of it is where we experimented with him going inside himself. What I come out with at that point is fairly incoherent and ambiguous, and that's based on this day we had which we used to refer to as the 'Wobbly'. When we were filming the scene it was like 'Okay let's go there now'. I went to a bit of a strange place in my head. It was worth it."

Thewlis still receives plaudits for Johnny, and still receives work off the back of it. Steven Spielberg once requested an audience with him, after Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma spent a night arguing about the film.

"I get this quite a lot" he muses. "People either come up to me and say 'You changed my life', 'That was me', or 'You said everything that I've ever thought'. A few religious nuts in America wrote to me saying 'Remember, God loves you.'"
11 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Whining nonsense
Namron76 November 2010
Complete rubbish.

For a start, Johnny wouldn't have lasted one day back in 90's London done up as he was. That oily 70's porno-moustache would have been torn clean off his face within 12 hours.

Secondly, why does Mike Leigh think ALL women are slags?

Thirdly, what's with all the rape stuff? And what's with the voyeurism? Er,.....Mike?

Fourthly, WTF is going on with the ending? My guess - based on his previous form: Johnny hops to the nearest phonebox to drink a bottle of vodka, pleasure himself over the phone-book, beat his head bloody against the door jamb, and collapse in a pool of vomit - all the while reading the Schrodinger equation aloud in a whining northern accent.

I really wish that had been the ending! And that then a steamroller - piloted by the security guard tersely singing 'Any Old Iron' in a monotone - had very slowly crushed said phonebox flat with Johnny inside, accompanied by his screams, imprecations, philosophical incantations and begging. Johnny's last words would be 'Tetley Tea Folk...Marquis de Sade...'.

Seriously, just because it was 'cough, cough' a bit different, doesn't mean this film was great.

Please grow up, everyone.

30 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Overwrought and tedious
tiberius312 May 2008
Just emailed a friend who's in film school about this flick. Something to avoid when making a film - characters blabbering senseless, overwrought, convoluted monologues on screen that are ultimately trite and unconvincing. If the film is an attempt at social realism, these verbal barrages are so over-the-top that they actually draw attention to the film constructed as film and effectively neutralize that intent. Is it the acting, or the script that is bad, or both?

The protagonist is also highly unbelievable for social realism - ravenously consuming canonical English literature and the bible while high or hungover and able to produce such profoundly sophomoric soliloquies while intoxicated? And how is such an unattractive, unwashed and verbally noxious character able to bed most of the women he meets within minutes of encountering them? (I had to applaud when one chick finally threw him out onto the street, despite his whining and self-pitying banter).

The viewer encounters pretentious references to Ancient Greek literature, Nostradamus and the Book of Revelations. The impending doom of mankind, in the form of bar codes imprinted on our foreheads or right hands in spooky biblical fashion, is presented to a character who is oh-so-cleverly exposed in his role as a guardian of empty space.

This flick is over-scripted and over the top - a melodrama clumsily infused with pedestrian "philosophy" about the meaning of mankind, life, etc. It is trite, overwrought and tedious.

There are some very fine English films available with content similar to this film. "Nil by Mouth" is an excellent, far more interesting excursion into the lives of individuals in a similar social milieu. Ditto for "In the Warzone." And although the comparison is not even warranted, check out anything by Peter Greenaway, who far more deftly handles dialogue, wit and absurd characters and situations.
25 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Strong stuff
ian_harris22 April 2003
Mike Leigh seems to have three types of film - the unequivocally nice, the unequivocally grim and the in-between. Personally, my preference is for the in-between stuff (e.g. Secrets and Lies, All or Nothing). Naked is unequivocally grim and strong stuff, but is a fine example of Leigh's work nevertheless.

Leigh assembled a very strong cast for this piece, most of whom are familiar to me from the London stage: David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp and the late Katrin Cartlidge all doing a good job of the leading roles, with top performers such as Peter Wight and Gina McKee playing smaller parts.

We felt uncomfortable throughout this film and found the characters hugely frustrating as they consistently messed things up. But that is so often the point with Leigh's work.

This is an excellent film.
8 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I feel so STUPID!
aliseliz13 February 2002
I usually consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but this film made me feel like an utter moron. The dialogue in this movie blew me away. Honestly, after just one viewing, I didn't understand a lot of what went on. Part of this was because of the accents, what with my being a simple country gal. David Thewlis was really great...a little scary, but incredible. His character was so brilliant and yet so messed up. Definitely not somebody you'd want to hang out with. I found this movie's attitude toward women a bit...uh...VIOLENT. I didn't see the point of the Sebastien bloke, either. Did he really have to keep running around in them itty bitty underpants? Ugh. Why didn't one of our poor helpless little heroines bash him in the head with the ever-present tea kettle? Sheesh. Well, aside from my nitpicking, this was a rather brilliant, thought-provoking (and ultimately quite depressing) film. I can't wait to watch it again to perhaps gain more understanding so I won't feel like such a dumbass.
8 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Thewlis rules OK
Erik-7123 August 1999
This performance by David Thewlis should be framed in gold and shown to all aspiring actors/actresses in the known Universe. His portrait of Johnny makes it impossible to feel anything but deep sympathy and understanding for a character that is basically a total b*st*rd. An extremely clever, bright and witty one, but still a b*st*rd, fighting with all his might to keep love away, still reaching for it desperately. A movie that fills you with disgust, discomfort, misery... and the feeling of having witnessed something that is achieved only once in a lifetime.
8 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I must be the only women on here who likes this film! SPOILERS FOLLOW!
Bon_Jovi_chick23 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, every review has a brief outline on what happens and here it is:

Johnny (David Thewlis) flees Manchester for London, to avoid a beating from the family of a girl he has raped. There he finds an old girlfriend (Lesley Sharpe), and spends some time homeless, spending much of his time ranting at strangers, and meeting characters in plights very much like his own.

That's basically it in a nutshell. Doesn't sound like much, does it? Oh you would be surprised! Johnny rants a hell of a lot but most of it is very provoking, especially when it comes to the Bible. But if you cant understand the Manchester accent or the English lingo, you're not going to enjoy this because you wont understand half of what is being said or half of what is going on!

This film is not for everyone. There is no basic plot to it which is basically Mike Leigh's style and I was asking myself repeatedly: Where is this story going?

Despite this, it is very funny. It is mainly dark humour but Johnny shows off a mixture of sarcasm, intelligence and dark humour. In the first 10 minutes, I couldn't stop laughing at his wit (even though I don't think it was meant to be THAT funny!)

However, it's also very sexually explicit. There are a lot of several rape scenes and the consensual scenes include Johnny treating his women roughly. This blurs the reality of what is rough consensual sex and rape.

Johnny is a confused person and David Thewlis carried this off brilliantly! It is his best role bar non. He acts the way he does because that's the way he was brought up. Johnny is a genius and has his say for the world but form the way he was treated (probably by his mother), he's given up on life and the world and gets by being sarcastic and bitter. However, he has a good heart and seems to have feelings for one person: his girlfriend, the one person who he doesn't try to mess around with (physically or mentally in the film!)

Some people are confused because of Jeremy and what part he has to play. I think what Leigh was trying to do was try and make a contrast between him and Johnny. Whilst Johnny shows compassion, Jeremy has no heart at all. It does not justify Johnny's rape or rough consensual sex- it rather shows that there are nastier people in the world than Johnny.

After reading reviews from I found that women tended to hate this film whilst men love it. I wont say that I loved it but it was a good film and a lovely controversial (and extremely thought-provoking one at that.

Marks: 8/10
9 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It is hard to explain the feeling I get each time I watch this movie.
The Kubster22 May 2004
After seeing this movie for the first time - I remember – it was a feeling of being undressed and very sad. And yet it one of the two greatest movies I have ever seen. It tears your perspective on society apart, it shows you the highs and mostly lows of the sad broken people you see one the street everyday. In some sense we are all Johnny, the seeker who is always running away, and if you are even the least human you have felt the feelings or acted like most of the characters.

The discussion between Johnny and the nightwatch(Brian), is in my humble opinion one of the greatest pieces of dialogs in a movie script. Mike Leigh has a special talent for telling the life story of a supporting character in 2-4 simple frames, like the young girl at the café(and if you rent Secrets & Lies, you will love the sequence with the former owner of Maurice's shop).

David Thewlis performance as Johnny is just frightening, it should be the benchmark for acting for his generation. But it is a great display from all – would love to know what Leigh does, to get that kind of performance. The ending is both logical and utterly sad, but it is true to the characters and the story. Go Rent it now…
9 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Change your life
tomyo620 August 2001
This is the best movie I have ever seen. After the second time I saw it, I knew it all. I became a spectator and was no longer a participant in this world. I think that's what the movie is all about. Open your eyes, there's so much more. Some people get this feeling because off religion, books,... For me it was this movie. It changed my view on almost everything.

9 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed