"I've got an infinite number of places to go; the problem is where to stay."

Sometimes it's the imagery that transfixes me; other times it's the sound or the complex plot line. In Mike Leigh's Naked, entrancement is lent by the performances and the writing, which are essentially one and the same given that the bulk of the script is developed from improvisation during rehearsal. Leigh's film is a remarkably dense satire that brims with social criticism and philosophical musings, delivered through antihero Johnny (David Thewlis), a vagabond whom we first encounter committing rape, yet whom we come to pity and understand with each passionate rant. Thewlis masterfully portrays his wretched character, speaking in rapid-fire witticisms and unrelenting condemnation of the world and those around him, always seeking to assert his learned superiority while failing to find purpose in it. In preparation of his role, Thewlis read up on Voltaire's Candide, a satirization of optimism, and Buddhism, which is relevant to Johnny's carnal desire and despair of ever reaching nirvana. A great example of this despair is Johnny's discussion with a hopeful security guard who quickly becomes disillusioned by the former's religious tirade, wherein he invokes Nostradamus' apocalypse and a nihilistic rejection of morality and purpose.

Thanks to Leigh's direction and Thewlis' immensely great performance, Naked is an unflinching, stimulating, extremely impressive character study, whose message is resonant and whose ideas are critical.

Harry Potter Spoiler?

As an aside, it's interesting to note that Johnny quips, "I used to be a werewolf," and Thewlis goes on to play a certain Dark Arts professor.

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