Naked ★★★★★

Comedy-drama is one of my favorite genres in any medium because it allows room for a tense, dramatic story to unfold while simultaneously giving respites of humor that allow a more humanistic feeling to overtake the story. Instead of a film being overflown with melodramatic moments of tension and depression, comedic scenes and dialogue allows things to lighten up more frequently than a straight drama would probably allow. The comedy in Mike Leigh's Naked, in particular, is thought out and natural, gently sliding into bits and pieces of the script without feeling forced or like a sudden shift in tone for the film. There's always a dark and brooding atmosphere surrounding these characters and their predicaments, but there's always a lighter, more humorous side to be revealed in the heavy reality of life.

Naked focuses on two starkly contrasting characters, neither of them considerably noble. One is a drifter, constantly winding up in conversations with tons of random strangers about a myriad of different topics. The other is a lunatic with violent, childlike tendencies and an insatiable sexual desire. Leigh ping-pongs back and forth between the two characters to provide a nice and evenly distributed character study of two starkly different, but equally dissatisfied, characters. The many different, almost Linklater-like styles of conversations that Johnny (David Thewlis) has with the wide selection of intriguing characters provide an intriguing and thought-provoking look at love, theology, and many different unanswered ruminations on life in general. Thewlis encapsulates the social and theological side of mankind, while the other man, Jeremy (Greg Cruttwell) provides a much darker, more sadistic view of human lusts and desires.

The oftimes depressing outlook on public life that Naked bestows upon its main character and audience may prove an altogether much more valid point than I would have thought possible. In the end, our character's tendency for a feeling of superiority always gets the better of him, always desiring to come out on top in his many theological debates and discussions, never really bearing any attachment to any of the random passers-by he runs into. Leigh's masterwork is a powerhouse examination, fueled by an ingenious performance from David Thewlis, that aims to scrutinize many of life's unasked questions, while also never attaining to attempt a level of realism. Melodrama never gets in the way of this film, however, instead paving more room for its dreamlike cinematography, its haunting score, and its razor sharp dialogue. Naked is a masterpiece, and certainly the best film to get me into Mike Leigh's works.

Wesley liked this review