Runtime: 2 hr 11 min
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Mike Leigh
Starring: David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp, Katrin Cartlidge, Greg Cruttwell, Claire Skinner, Peter Wight, Ewen Bremner
A truly great film.
Review by: MiamiMovieCritic
Added: 8 years ago
In describing the tone of certain types of movies, the word “dark” gets tossed around a lot. That’s not say it’s being used inappropriately. The new Harry Potter movie is dark, for instance, compared to its predecessors. But when it comes to “dark” movies, there’s Mike Leigh’s Naked and there’s everything else. This isn’t the fantasy or comic book kind of dark that fans of blockbusters and summer sequels are used to. This is a trip to the dark side courtesy of real life – life lived at its seediest, at its most hopeless and desperate.
If reading that last sentence makes you feel like putting as much distance as possible between yourself and this movie, I beg you to reconsider. It took me years to actually sit down and watch this thing, and when I finally did I found it disheartening… but also exhilarating, because this is a truly great film.
The centerpiece is the absolute amazing performance by David Thewlis, whom audiences might recognize from his work as Lupin, the werewolf professor in the Harry Potter films. Here, he plays Johnny, a cripplingly embittered young man who spends most of his time drifting around London, sneering at life and pushing his fatalistic philosophy on anyone who will listen. After a shocking episode with a pregnant woman in an alley, Johnny flees and pays a visit to an old girlfriend, Louise (Lesley Sharp), who seems relatively stable.
There are two other key characters in the film: Sophie (Katrin Cartlidge), Louise’s near-comatose flatmate; she’s just as lost as Johnny is, but she lacks the poetry to express herself. Then there’s Jeremy (Greg Cruttwell), Louise’s sociopathic landlord, who’s like acid rain on the film’s already dreary parade. As fascinating as these characters are, we’re always eager to get back to Johnny – there’s never been a protagonist quite like him. He may be cynical and completely alone, but he’s also funny. His philosophy may be completely depressing, but he’s super-articulate in explaining in it. Naked is unforgettable.