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A Mesmerising Study in Isolation and Human Relationships
on 1 September 2008
Naked hit me like a sledgehammer when I first saw it. Unmatched in intensity, it examines several lives in different degrees of detail with one thing in common. They are all alone - even the girls who share the flat and the rich City boy with his girlfriends and conquests. Johnny links them together - his interactions with them, at times gentle, at times vicious and vile. We see, through excellence of acting and writing which is taut but often exuberant, how the morass of London isolates as often as it brings together.
This is a true London film, made up mostly of non-Londonders. It shines a light onto people living in the early 90s, recession-hit, post-Thatcher period. It is a political film, polemical and angry. Johnny is seemingly full of wonder at the world, railing against the 'me, now' generation, and yet deeply cynical about the purpose of existence.
Mike Leigh was accused of being misanthropic with Naked, focusing on the worst of human nature. But you can take from it what you want - in some people's lives there is little or no redemption, but there are moments. Moments of joy, kindness, laughter - even among the despair. You can take the great lines, the arguments, the speeches, the quotations. Take the fact that your life might have gone down the route of many of those people, but didn't. If it sounds like I treated this film like a religious experience, for many years I did. It is beautiful and powerful, rich and epic in its themes. I've never seen another film that spoke more to me about people.