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Naked (Mike Leigh, 1993)

David Thewlis gives a blistering performance as 28-year-old Mancunian Johnny who, based on what happens in the one day presented here, seems to live a dismal, brutal life which is somehow also filled with lots of sex and scintillating intellectual discussions. Right from the beginning of the film, Johnny is raping a woman in an alley and then steals a car and flees to London where he goes to the flat of ex-girlfriend Louise (Lesley Sharp), but she's at work, so Louise's flatmate Sophie (Katrin Cartlidge) lets him in to wait for her. From here, the film follows Johnny on an episodic journey which seems to turn him from one of the most-amoral wankers in sight to a visionary genius and back again. Most of the film's dialogue was apparently worked out by the actors during a long rehearsal period before shooting, and Thewlis is allowed to ruminate on the end of the world as well as be incredibly witty about it even while many of the people he talks to probably don't understand what he's going on about. I would probably think even more highly of the film if the bastard character of Jeremy (Greg Crutwell) were better-explained or perhaps cut entirely out of the film. As it is, he seems there to show viewers that there are worse men than Johnny but it's a facile comparison since Jeremy is so superficial and Johnny is so complex. Even so, this is still probably Leigh's best film and it looks really good too with expert Dick Pope cinematography capturing the look of an almost ruined urban blight which has obviously contributed to the hopelessness of many of the characters.