Lee, or El Duderino, if, you're not into the whole brevity thing’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Have your ever thought, right - I mean, you don't know...but you might already have had the happiest moment in your whole fucking life...and all you've got to look forward to is sickness and purgatory"?
Wow...I knew 20min into Mike Leigh's unapologetically sardonic Naked, that I was going to absolutely love it. I've always been a fan of David Thewlis (go see him steal the show in Fargo S03), but he absolutely blew me away with his portrayal of Johnny, the linguistic virtuoso yet repulsive drifter with the proclivity to push anyone that gets too close, away. How he wasn't even nominated for the Oscar that year, baffles me (at least he and Leigh won at Cannes). What immediately came to mind was, Odysseus and his eventful trek home, which then led to thinking of James Joyce's classic novel, Ulysses. Johnny just like Nobody Odysseus and Leopold Bloom spend their entire tale drifting from one encounter to the next, meeting a varied assortment of unique and eccentric figures, and always delving deeper and deeper into their minds and souls. Naked more specifically mirrors Ulysses, wirh the change of setting from Dublin, to London town. The more Johnny spoke, the more I imagined the heavy weight stream of consciousness that Joyce ever so eloquently and powerfully established with Bloom (as well as a bender I once had in Dublin). Their journeys all depart from the same point, the mind, and all seek to navigate the rivers of the soul. But in the words of Joyce,
"Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves".
An absolutely thought provoking and mentally resonant odyssey, Naked takes us through a collision course straight into one lost soul to another. You could say it's Llewellyn Davis's self-deprecating uncle. Not quite the underbelly of London, but Leigh superbly takes us along the recesses and shady corners of the mind. Naturally stripped of any protection, as the title entails, the characters and we, the spectators are utterly naked. Devoid of our future, stumbling zombies searching for feeling in the present, and estranged from our pasts. Naked presents an immense care for thematic presence for its full 2ish hour runtime. Like the almost anti-hero (even Christ like figure aimlessly wandering life having lost faith and hope in his people) underdog Johnny, you may not want to make yourself comfortable, yet everything stated has so much impact and truth to it (at least for me). It's almost as if you just stopped time around you, and just patrol through life, from checkpoint to checkpoint, not quite aimlessly, but certainly with no absolute clue. Paired with a memorising musical score, the dream- like state is only further enhanced as we meet these strangers of the night. And in regards to the score, I noticed there is almost no diegetic sound in the film. Perhaps deliberate, but the lack of any traffic, pedestrians, clinking of pints, merchants, animals, etc. leaves us naked yet again. Naked and alone with only our words and the clothes on our pale skin. Speaking of naked, there are a handful of rough sex scenes throughout the film. While it may seem unnecessary, I subscribe to the assessment that these moments further the internal struggle the characters (mainly male) suffer from. Unable to truly express their emotions and so disassociated with normal life, they life for the pain. These intimate moments that would tradionally be sensual and emotionally open, become restrictive, rough, and dispassionate. You know what they say, "Life is pain. Anyone that tells you differently is selling you something". Leigh's brilliantly directed, written, and acted characters would (for the most part) seemingly rather suffer than settle for monotony, because you at least feel alive with the prior.
While the entirety of Naked had a phenomenal script, I absolutely loved a particular sequence between Johnny and Brian, the security guard. As they leisurely progress through the entire building in accordance to Brian's security checkpoint scans, they debate the existence of mankind, the coming apocalypse ala Y2K, and the future of the human race. Johnny in all his infinite philosophical waxing and eloquent speech, explains to Brian how he believes that mankind will fall and cease to exist. The mark of the beast depicted through the barcode, the fall of Wormwood (or in Russian, Chernobyl), the alignment of the Solar system in accordance to the four (horoscope) beasts of hell, and so forth. You still with me, love? If we are to stay, it will not be in our material form, more so we should transcend and evolve into a universal consciousness. That got me thinking briefly, and along the same train of well-read conspiracy and truth seeking Johnny, what if we are already down that path, with the advent of technological proliferation and superiority. We are already so willingly and casually embarked upon our own extinction, through the creation of enhanced and immortal beings in our quest for perfecting artificial intelligence. Concerned with achieving our own immortality, our hubris shall arrive in the form of the very tools and creations we spawn, ever so gradually moving us towards our own extinction (if we don't kill the planet first). Our desire to ease our daily load and overall life has led to the invention of our very own Frankenstein's monster, the very entity that consumes our lives, homes, cities, careers, and government. So apropos, "Amo, amas, amat. Quid pro quo. Memento mori. Ad infinitum..." It has reached the point where technology does not only make your life easier, it controls it. And that evolution into universal collective consciousness? Well we're living in it, love. The internet. [WakeTheFuckUpKeanu.gif]
PS - David really makes a joke about being a werewolf! Oh, and welcome to the top 5, Nor-dawg.