Ethan’s review published on Letterboxd:
“You think you can recapture your youth by fucking it. You don't wanna fuck me. You'll catch something cruel.”
Mike Leigh’s Naked is a riveting parable brimming with a scornful wit and humanity unseen through initial viewing. The film chronicles the exploits of the sardonic and nihilistic vagabond, Johnny, a man who is first introduced as he brutally rapes a young woman in a back alleyway. Fearing the repercussions of his actions, Johnny flees to the streets of London. There, he tries to justify his pathetic existence by ranting to strangers and shaming their beliefs. And for the next two hours, we are forced to accompany the far from empathetic Johnny as he wanders around London, oppressing the lives of everyone he encounters.
The monumental task of portraying such a deprived 'human being' falls into the hands of David Thewlis, who delivers a powerhouse performance as he spouts scathing dialogue with virulent efficiency, resulting in a performance that is deeply repulsive yet simultaneously hypnotic. At times, Johnny feels like the embodiment of the devil himself. Some have theorized so, while others speculate Johnny is a modern 'jesus' figure, with visions of an incoming apocalypse.
Naked is a somewhat painful movie to watch, as all good films are, only because of how much it parallels the real world. The film smartly forgoes a clear narrative structure, opting instead to portray social realism and deliver satirical commentary through the subtleties of Thewlis' performance and the subtext within his unforgiving rants. Naked is brutal and uncompromising in its telling of a world in extreme alienation. The film slowly but surely creeps in, and by the end of it all, you’ll probably want a shower.