Thomas Ringdal’s review published on Letterboxd:
How to review your favourite film, or even worse, how to review your favourite film when that film is Mike Leigh's Naked?
Naked starts of rough and only gets bleeker. But that's only a small part of what makes this a masterpiece.
First and foremost Naked is abouth David Thewlis' character Johnny, unenmployed both by choice and by circumstance, who personifies the ugly side most commonly shoved under the carpet in favour of the success stories. Yes, we're talking post-Thatcher Britain, but as far as I can tell there's many similairities to present time, and the world Leigh shows us is not limited to a certain era. But it might be limited to big cities.
Johnny is a man who says what he thinks, no matter who or how much it hurts, he wears his personality on his sleeve, and stands in front of us, naked.
A film like this will never have a happy ending, but Johnny isn't evil. Evil on the other hand is shown us through a yuppie character, with some of the same characteristics as "our Johnny", but with a mean streak to him. The ending is very telling as to the similiarities and differences between them, when the yuppie, benefitting from Thatcherism, drives away from the carnage in his fancy car, while Johnny limps up the street.
What first got me hooked on Naked was the scenes with the security guard. I caught them on cable as I was leaving the apartment and it mesmerized me. Sadly I had to leave and never found out what film it was until years later, when by accident a mate talked about a film he thought I'd enjoy and when described to me I knew I'd finally found it.
Maybe that makes me love it more than others. The fact I longed for it for years, so when I finally got to watch it all, it had sort of a born again Christian affect on me.
Or maybe not, since when I saw it again yesterday it hadn't lost any of it's hold on me, and I even found new things to love.
The rest of the cast deliver excelllent performances as well, especially the brilliant Katrin Cartlidge.
Everyone seem to suffer from escaping the bubble that was the Cold War, mixed together with a government policy that had little empathy for the working classes.
They almost seem numb, and in some sense you think that maybe they wished the world had ended in an apocalypse, seeing as they don't have that much going for them anyways. If they have a job, they hate it, and if not, you're on the dole with not much of a bright future.
But then, on the other hand, Johhny radiates a love for a life that transcends his own misfortunes, how ever self inflicted. He thoroughly wants to find out everything there is to know about why we're here, and to what end. In the end it breaks him as his interactions with others only leaves him more desillusioned.
One mustn't forget Mike Leigh, who wrote as well as directed. And the dialogue he invented is razor sharp, and very witty. Along with camerawork that's never sofisticated and next to no lighting it fits in perfectly with the film itself.
I don't know how much this makes sense, I'm just rambling on. In the end I'll conclude that Naked is brutal, shattering, honest, angry, fascinating, smart, funny, and much, much more.
I love this film.