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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What happens if a butterfly flaps its wings in Salford?, 6 April 2013
This review is from: Naked [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
Naked is written and directed by Mike Leigh. It stars David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp, Katrin Cartlidge, Greg Cruttwell, Claire Skinner, Peter Wright, Ewen Bremner and Gina McKee. Music is by Andrew Dickinson and cinematography by Dick Pope.

Johnny (Thewlis) is an unemployed wastrel who has to flee Manchester after indulging in his sexually violent proclivities. Heading for London to seek out an old girlfriend, Johnny encounters a number of people more hapless and lost than he is.

Proles, Plebs and Potheads.

Mike Leigh's brutal and raw character study remains as potent today as it was on release in post Thatcher Britain. Sometimes coined as a film for masochists or misogynists, Naked is actually for neither. For sure it isn't setting out to cheer you up, it's relentlessly restless and intense, it doesn't cut corners or operate under a banner of political convenience. Yet it does have intelligent depth to the point where the deeper you dig the more troubling Leigh's observations become. This allows Leigh and his brilliant cast to leave indelible images, to bring out themes that simply refuse to leave the conscious, where the observation of a society filled with sad, lonely and desperate people provides the discomfort of the human form stripped, well, naked.

Ever seen a dead body?

Only my own...

Johnny is an intellectual, an intelligent man, even charming, he can chat freely on the world and man's existence in it. But he has unhealthy appetites and a knack for latching onto emotional discord. Posit this with a backdrop of dirty streets, cheap cafes and grungey flats, and there's a starkness about the narrative that scars the soul, aided considerably by Dickinson's edgy violin based score and Pope's stripped back colour photography. A concurrent character study with that of Johnny is that of Jeremy/Sebastian (Cruttwell), the definition of Yuppiedom gone wrong, the devil with a filofax who is both cruel and predatory, he's the polar opposite of scruffy Johnny, but both represent a London that's far from the bright lights and big city so many hopeless dreamers set off in search of.

A sick boy in search of Booze, Beans and a Bath.

The Jeremy/Sebastian axis feels very much like satire, this also is something that makes Naked so strong, it is quite often funny. True, the humour here is clinical and comes in spiked barbs, but there are laughs to be had here, the kind that deftly dovetail with a pervading sense of bleakness, finding wit in the most unlikely of places. What is Leigh trying to say in all this? As usual he isn't offering up solutions to his questions, he demands you observe and respond, while he asks his actors to take the material and respond in kind, which they do, led by a quite extraordinary performance by Thewlis. Cannes agreed, awarding Thewlis with the Best Actor Award whilst also bestowing Leigh with the Best Director Award. Both were richly deserved.

Never gratuitous, Naked is a sensitive and thoughtful film, yes it's tough to witness at times, it's meant to be, but this is a searing masterpiece that demands to be seen more than once. 10/10
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 May 2014 20:08:05 BDT
Cookie says:
This may be one of the greatest reviews ever. "Devil With a Filofax" a song title coming soon to a Morrissey album near you.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 May 2014 20:12:27 BDT
Spike Owen says:
Thank you so much for the kind words. Hopefully others will seek out this powerful film.

Kindest Regards

Spike
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