Naked ★★★★★

A nocturnal odyssey through a cold and menacing area of London. It can be a difficult watch - harrowing scenes of sexual violence abound, made more abrasive by the fact that the main character is a violent misogynist depicted with vulnerability and humanity. Johnny's charismatic misanthropy is borderline sympathetic in his colorful, comical ranting. He's also shown to have warmth, intelligence, and anguished self-awareness.

His need to physically hurt or humiliate every woman he lures into his orbit is not something the film endorses, though one could argue that it celebrates this character in privileging his thoughts and exploits. I don't take that view at all, though - Thewlis and Leigh's creation is well-worth following around, but is ultimately a pathetic figure. Naked fully acknowledges the crippling pathologies driving him onward and the casualties left in his wake. Wounded narcissism lashes out, and Johnny's inflated self-image is perpetually squirming in the jaws of his squalid, futureless reality.

Great characters, beautiful direction, haunting score, incredible performances, and glorious, masterful dialogue. A unique blend of disturbing, bleak, and brilliantly funny moments, ambitiously tackling themes of class, urban isolation, gender politics, the nature of evil, and plenty more. This one floored me, definitely a recent favorite. Mike Leigh is clearly a genius, now I gotta watch everything he's ever done.

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