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Director: Mike Leigh, Mike Leigh
1993 / 131min / DCP
Leigh’s whiplash-propulsive film-rant intercuts the peregrinations of Johnny (David Thewlis)—a hyper-articulate, charismatic working-class maniac and Manchester fugitive, freshly arrived in London to roam the capital’s streets haranguing all he meets as a disheveled Socratic browbeater/town decrier/sex pest—and those of a sneering sociopathic English Psycho yuppie played by a thoroughly revolting Greg Cruttwell. An apocalyptic vision of post-Thatcher England, developed through Leigh’s time-tested process of extensive improvisatory exercises, its many pleasures including a wonderful tight-lipped, sardonic performance by the late Katrin Cartlidge.
“Mike Leigh’s Naked is in some ways the darkest film ever made. When the film came out, I remember hearing Leigh had asked his actors to focus on the aspects of their own personalities that they disliked the most as they created their characters. In any case, his technique of having the actors improvise until a script emerged results in the nastiest, most perfect performance from Thewlis. His wild, pointed riffing flies by so furiously, it is the verbal equivalent of a big budget action picture.”—Walton Ford