During an e-mail exchange this week, a friend happened to refer to a soliloquy by Johnny, David Thewlis ' protagonist in Mike Leigh's film Naked. While film blogs are currently debating Leigh's latest output, Happy-Go-Lucky , this casual mention prompted a discussion as to exactly why, 15 years after its first release, Naked is the most under-rated film of recent times. The film opens with Johnny raping a young woman in Manchester, before he flees to London where he attempts to engage a series of passing characters, each as alienated as Johnny in their own ways: an aging lush , a sadistic yuppie, a lonely security guard preoccupied by the possibility of a better future, two young Scottish runaways. Naked is grim, but it is staggering. For my money, it is Mike Leigh's finest work and arguably the best British film in recent history. Released 15 years ago it also marks the beginning of a fallow period for British film-making that may also come to be seen as the end of radical cinema. Not long after its release Derek Jarman, another cinematic maverick, died.
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The brilliant and controversial Naked, from director Mike Leigh, stars David Thewlis as Johnny, a charming and eloquent but relentlessly vicious drifter. Rejecting anyone who might care for him, the volcanic Johnny hurls himself around London on a nocturnal odyssey, colliding with a succession of other desperate and dispossessed people and scorching everyone in his path. By Derek Malcolm. By Amy Taubin. By Ian Buruma.
Naked is a British black comedy written and directed by Mike Leigh and starring David Thewlis as Johnny, a loquacious intellectual and conspiracy theorist. The film won several awards, including best director and best actor at Cannes. Naked marked a new career high for Leigh as a director and made the then-unknown Thewlis an internationally recognised star. In an alleyway of the UK city of Manchester , Johnny Fletcher has a sexual encounter with a married woman. Things get rough and ugly. Johnny Fletcher steals a car and then flees for Dalston , a "scrawny, unpretentious area" in the east of London. He seeks refuge at the home of his former Manchester girlfriend Louise. Louise is not happy to see her ex. She works as a file clerk and shares a rental house with two flatmates, Sophie, a young party girl, and primary tenant Sandra, a nurse who's away on holiday.