Naked (Criterion Collection)
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One of the essential films of the 1990s, Mike Leighs brilliant and controversial Naked stars David Thewlis as Johnny, a charming, eloquent, and relentlessly vicious drifter in London. Rejecting all those who would care for him, the volcanic Johnny hurls himself into a nocturnal odyssey through the city, colliding with a succession of the desperate and the dispossessed and scorching everyone in his path. With a virtuoso script and raw performances by Thewlis and costars Katrin Cartlidge and Lesley Sharp, Leighs panorama of Englands crumbling underbelly is a showcase of black comedy and doomsday prophecy, and was the winner of the best director and actor prizes at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.
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Top Customer Reviews
Clearly, Johnny is a stranger wherever he goes. He's an outsider who loathes the hypocricy he associates with the inside. It isn't that he is hopeless. Nor does he lack desire. He desires that which exists beyond the palty grasp of human desire. He has heretofore avoided being nailed to the floor with compensations for thwarted, vulgar human desire. There is no pleasure in consuming for Johnny. There is no pleasure in most things that he, or any other human, might covet.
Johnny believes in an angry, vengeful Judaic god that hates mankind. He seems to believe that humanity is a scourge on the planet. He obsesses over eschatological xtianity. He seems rather unimpressed with the basic living apparatus most civilized humans take for granted. He certainly finds it most economical to degrade women as he sees fit. Johnny is rare. His truths are scalding to those careful, complacent types who make up the world of false ideals and false hopes. He will forever be alien in their world. He will forever spit on their world. But he is human. He longs for attention, if not affection. He is capable of feeling something other than the pure balm of hate.
The performances are all stunning in this film. I particularly enjoy the late Katrin Cartlidge's turn as "wicky-wacky" Sophie.Read more ›
The character of Sabashian was such a frightful and scary one, that I thought of him often. I know that there was so much symbolism in this movie , especially with the two men at the end touching hands . A lot of it went over my head , and it is one of those movies you have to see again and again to truely appreciate , but it is well worth it .
A wonderful masterpiece. A must see .
I'm sure after seeing Thewlis playing Professor Lupin in the third Harry Potter movie that a lot of people are wondering what else he's done.
Why isn't this movie available on DVD?!
Why no DVD?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First, David Thewlis is brilliant! The ferocity of his performance captivated audiences around the world and won him Cannes and other acting honors, but no Oscar nomination. I would contend that if this movie were released now, with Mike Leigh and David Thewlis better known and respected, the outcome would have been much different. All the performers bring a realness to the film that make it so effective, but it is Thewlis's show.
Thewlis's Johnny is a despicable human being. He is rude, violent, petulant, unwashed, selfish, and totally at odds with anything even resembling humanity. He proceeds to make his way through London meeting up with various characters each more loathsome or desperate then the last. It is a bleak portrait, at best. Every woman, inexplicably, is drawn to Johnny. I mean--what a catch, huh? Some might label the film misogynistic, and it's treatment of women isn't glamorous--but I'd contend that the men are all ogres as well which helps balance things out.
So why is this movie great? Sounds like a nasty piece of work (and it is). But aside from the blistering performances, the film is scathingly and brutally funny. The impeccably literate script actually has something to say about the modern world, about philosophy, about the human condition. It's a tremendously smart black comedy. And Johnny becomes one of the most well-spoken and funny antiheroes in modern movie history. It's refreshing for a movie that is so brutal and tough to be so intelligent as well. And for all you despise about Johnny, there will be a grudging respect too. You understand why people are drawn to him.
I've thought about this film many times since I rewatched it last week, and now I've felt compelled to add my two cents here. Check it out. A nasty masterpiece. KGHarris, 10/06.
This is a film that's fascinating, but, damn, it's a bit of a ride. I'm frequently catching it late at night, on IFC, and even just a few moments almost always wear me out -- definitely a movie that brings to your attention when you need to go to bed. I appreciate "Naked," as a filmic experience, and it is indeed an incredible one, but I have to wonder if this is what movies are supposed to do.
Still, it does what it does and what it does is unlike anything else you could want to find.
David Thewlis may have made a mistake starring in this because he is so brilliant, so engaging, so horrifying, so smart, so black that to this day, I still have a hard time seeing him as any other character -- whether he's in "Gangster #1" or "The Prisoner of Azkaban." It's great work. He'll make you laugh, he'll make you cry, he'll make you carsick.
I'd also like to nominate the scene between Johnny and the security guard -- their discussion of time, and space, and barcodes and apocalypse and Dadaist nuns -- to be elected to the office of the great scenes of the 90s, and to take a place on the larger list of the great cinematic moments altogether.
The title that Leigh applied to his 1993 cerebral mesh of cinematic cynicism does tangibly imply the notion of self-exposure. Even though it might, and does, suggest a physical display of the human anatomy, the title, more accurately, provides an allusion towards the complete revelation of the character, Johnny (David Thewlis), in the film. Naked offers an absolute exposure of Johnny's thoughts, values, and other accumulated information both assimilated and adapted throughout a lifetime. Nothing is too sacred, or secret, in Leigh's film, which viciously displays Johnny's contempt for society as a whole. The contemptuous mood of the film filters through Johnny's personal confessions with strangers and outsiders, which seemingly rests within the highly intelligent, but mutilated mind of Johnny. In a sense, this confessional approach of telling the tale of Johnny, functions almost like a personal purging of Leigh's own implacable characteristics.
A dark and secluded alley strikes the audience's retina in the initial scene. The sporadic light in the alley exposes some of the bare red brick and a little of the dirty cement underneath. The camera shakily and swiftly advances through the narrow alleyway accompanied by the intensifying sound of carnal lust. A rapid succession of frames moves the audience closer to a man and a woman that, at first, seem to express their shameless desires for one another, when suddenly the man turns violent and grabs the woman's throat and wrist. He continues his repeated hip thrusting motion while the woman begins to whimper and begs him to stop. Abruptly, the man ceases his defilement of the woman, which gives the woman an opportunity to escape. This man is Johnny.
From the brief, yet disturbing opening, the audience quickly discovers the dark side of Johnny, as he truly becomes the antihero. Most viewers will deem Johnny after his actions, as a spineless beast without moral fiber that deserves the worst possible punishment. This is a notion that Johnny seems to be highly aware of, as he consequently steals a car and escapes the possible repercussions of social shame and the possibility of severe punishment. However, what trigged Johnny to commit this vile act nourishes the curiosity, as he does have a strong sense of what is right and wrong.
The lengthy cinematic rationalization of Johnny begins when he seeks refuge in London, where an old girlfriend becomes his last opportunity for temporary sanctuary. Antagonistically, Johnny thrusts his hostile and negatively skewed perspective of life on all that enter his existence such as the ex-girlfriend, Louis (Lesley Sharp), her roommate (Katrin Cartlidge), Brian the Nightwatchman (Peter Wight), a Scot with a severe tick problem (Ewen Bremner), and the sadistically misogynic Jeremy (Greg Cruttwell). Everything from childhood trauma with his mother's sinful occupation to religious debates eventually leads into existentialism in regards to predetermined existence exposed by Nostradamus to the big bang theory. Eloquent criticism oozes out of Johnny's spiteful mouth with intentional scornfulness that forms cerebral depositions in regards to the misery humanity faces. All of these lengthy viewpoints should be revered and cherished, as Johnny emerges with a conviction similar to Achilles' faith in his own invulnerability. It gets to the point where Johnny's ridicule of the society becomes intriguingly entertaining while his supreme ego crushes all verbal opposition with articulate and depressing gibberish.
Within the strong conviction of his own intelligence an immediate weakness surfaces in Johnny, as he always sees the glass as half full. One of his strongest and self-supporting comments, "...you might already have had the happiest moment in your whole life and all you got to look forward to is sickness and purgatory." In essence, Johnny's depressing cognitive skills seem to prevent himself from climbing out of the deepest of intellectual pits, as he always pushes himself down with his own negative perspectives while always assimilating newly acquired information to his already pessimistic life philosophy. Johnny is that kind of person that brings darkness and sickness into the existence, which so many attempt to escape with self-help books and expensive shrinks. However, Leigh seems to be painfully aware of this notion, as he exuberantly dives into this project to pull out something extremely dark within himself by exorcizing his own cerebral demons by fully exposing himself.
Naked opens with a despicable scene, an event that most could never see themselves accomplishing. Through this scene, Leigh captures self-hatred through Johnny's existence in darkness, shadows, and an environment from which people strive to escape. Nonetheless, Johnny seeks out these depressive times and places both physically and cerebrally, which the script and mise-en-scene so powerfully displays. David Thewlis' performance is straight-out spectacular, as he embodies physically, intellectually, and spiritually the archetype for gloominess. It is a performance that went under the Oscars radar most likely due to its negative content, but nonetheless, Thewlis mesmerizes, antagonizes, and amuses any viewer in any continent. Lastly, Naked provides a cinematic canvas upon which Leigh freely reveals the darker parts of personal self-reflection, which offers humanity a chance through understanding and deeper contemplation beyond the mere glumness of existence.