Matthew Roberts’s review published on Letterboxd:
I am so glad that I found this. For years I've had memories of a scene of some film I caught on TV late at night when I must've been 14. A homeless man and a security guard discuss philosophy, how the present as an impossibility because it is already in the past, if God is good or evil; deep and incredibly well written lines with perfect use of lighting and cinematography. I liked movies, I was interested in Kubrick, but only casually, I had never taken notice of aspects like that before. I must've fallen asleep not long after that scene ended but it has stayed with me for 5 years. This morning, I discovered that this film was Mike Leigh's Naked.
David Thewlis gives one of the most brilliant and natural performances I have ever seen in film. His role, Johnny, is hardly a good man. The film begins with casual back alley sex turning into rape and he flees. Even down in London he has a bad attitude, remains violent, rude, yet there's an undeniable charisma and he radiates sympathy. He looks like a stray dog and has nowhere to be. He's a total loser. Everyone else manages to give fantastic performances, (Katrin Cartlidge especially), and not one of them is poorly written or developed.
The plot is bare but completely captivating. Nothing in the story, none of the encounters, feel wasted in any way. However, Jeremy/Sebastian's scenes left me a little confused, I didn't quite get the purpose of them being intercut with Johnny's so often but they're so well acted that I was fine sitting through them, absorbed, fine with following him or Johnny.
Naked falls in the second half, emulating an almost Woman Under the Influence hysteria that feels hard to sit through; not just for the content but for the departure from the realist perspective retained throughout the film until then. It's truly a shame because Naked has incredible potential and comes close to being a real masterpiece.
Regardless of the minor flaws in the second half it is still a totally captivating and emotional experience. I did not want to leave the world of Johnny and Sophie and Louise. The ending was stunning and felt like a more than fitting way to finish such a brilliant film.