90s London and the End of the World (Naked reviewed)


Naked (UK, 1993)

Seen: Saturday, 11th April 2009 (VHS, repeat viewing)
Runtime: 131′
Director: Mike Leigh
Cast: David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp, Katrin Cartlidge, Greg Cruttwell, Claire Skinner, Peter Wight, Ewen Bremner, Susan Vidler, Gina McKee
Production House: Thin Man Films, British Screen Productions, Channel Four Films
Plot: Johnny flees Manchester for London to avoid a beating. Once in London, he wanders around the city with no particular purpose. First he tries his luck at an ex-girlfriend’s apartment and later takes to the streets, chatting to and annoying random people.

Scene From The Film
The trailer for Naked totally sucks and gives a very poor idea of what the film actually is like, so instead here’s a scene where Johnny chat ups Brian for the second time. Brian is a middle-aged security guard, who works night shifts and spends the nights obsessively pondering the future.

Impressions In Short
This has long been one of my favourite films and every time I see it I still love it. The characters and atmosphere of the film capture me every time.

More About the Film
This film makes me very nostalgic. It’s a sort of tour of early 90s London (mainly by night), which is pretty much the London I was brought up in. I’m yet to see a film which captures the London of that time better :)
But quite apart from my nostalgia, this is an excellent film with many awards to its name - the biggest ones being Best Director and Best Actor in Cannes in 1993. David Thewlis is amazing and he got a lot of attention for this. It’s probably the most praised role of his career and I totally join the bandwagon *grin*
Johnny is a very intense and complex character. He doesn’t seem able to settle down anywhere and doesn’t find many people who match his intelligence or share his philosophical interests, so he kind of wanders around talking to random people, trying to outsmart, mock and confuse everybody. And then there’s his obsession with the end of the world. He quotes Nostradamus and the Apocalypse and asks people whether they think the world will end in 1999 as Nostradamus predicted.
There’s a great host of other bizarre characters and very well played supporting roles, but it’s definitely David Thewlis who steals the show.
The scene in the film that always hits me the most is the last one. It’s just Johnny limping down the street. There’s not even any dialogue in it and its precise meaning is up for interpretation, but there’s something very powerful about it. Without the scene preceding it, the last scene doesn’t actually spoil anything, so you can take a look at it here if you like :) I’m not sure if it’s as powerful without the build-up into it, but for me it remains a scene that haunts me after every viewing.
On a totally random note, Thewlis makes a werewolf joke in this, which somehow I found hilarious as his werewolf role in Harry Potter is what people know him best for nowadays.

Yes!!! :) However, Johnny is not a particularly sympathetic character. The film rather hangs on finding him involving despite that, so if you need your heroes to be likeable, this might not be your kind of movie.

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