Naked

Like a fiery street preacher, Naked barges into your space and your psyche, insistently haranguing you and demanding attention. In Mike Leigh’s all-too-human miserablist drama/void-black comedy, crude misanthrope Johnny (David Thewlis) squats at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and lambasts his way through the streets of London, ranting about space, God, evolution, The Odyssey, the Apocalypse – anything to anyone who’ll listen, especially if they have cigarettes. It’s a fascinating portrait of a deeply intelligent, horribly cruel and pessimistic character – at home in a film that sulks in theatrical existentialism and kitchen sink realism. Thewlis’s mesmerizing performance and Leigh’s top-notch storytelling are almost able to humanize this ugly outcast – not with redemptive clichés, but with rare and shocking emotional integrity most artists would flinch at.

Dir. Mike Leigh, 1993, 16mm, 126 min.