Liam’s review published on Letterboxd:
One hell of a performance from Thewlis. He really is the anchor to this whole film. His performance as Johnny is magnetic and pathetic in equal measures. The very first moment of the film is Johnny committing sexual assault against a woman in an alley, before stealing a car to escape to London. Johnny is a nihilist, broken down, he expects misery from the world and so seems to see fit to dish out misery, to soak in misery.
Feeling betrayed by God, by capitalism, by the UK Government, and who knows what else he is constantly lashing out. Trying to bring down to his level so they soak in the misery as well. This is a difficult role to play, done incorrectly he could be so repugnant as to be unwatchable. Yet Thewlis makes him absorbing to watch. Johnny is pathetic, and he loathes himself, which gives the audience a window to see the humanity of him.
He is also mirrored by a sadistic, wealthy landlord known as Sebastian. They share many traits, misogynistic, abusive and in other ways differ dramatically. These parts are kind of the weakest. I wish Leigh leaned into it instead and developed him even further.
Still, this is a wonderful character study of a broken, miserable man. The acting is astonishing, and there is some absolutely wonderful cinematography.