Dec 26, 2008


Johnny's a dead man walking. You wouldn't guess that he's the ripe, young age of 27 at first glance. Hell, even I thought 40 was a generous guess. Similar to the philosophy of Into the Wild, only deliriously intellectualized, the carefree and often risqué charisma of Johnny is a savage tool for him to abuse most females he encounters, but no, Johnny's not a misogynist. Like most of us, he's a misanthropist. Unlike most of us, the complexity of which his mind unravels allows us for the perfect specimen for documentation of sorts.

His form of sincere narcissism is one that is most unexplored. He doesn't represent himself as a human being in most aspects, that is, unless he just got the hell kicked out of him. He wanders around the scenes quoting philosophers, raping women, chain-smoking, and discussing high society values in an establishment that is crumbling underneath of him. The character of Johnny has reached a demigod level thanks to Mike Leigh's British masterpiece.

There are many adjectives that can be used to accentuate the thoughts this film provokes. Searing is an audacious example that springs to mind. I'd owed it to Derek to watch this film for little over a year now. Collecting dust on my shelf; Had I known this film would have been so invasive of my every thought, I would have picked this up a lot sooner. I had always jested about viewing this film under the sole condition that I, in fact, would be Naked as the film puts it. But be as it would, Naked is a metaphor for humanity slowly unsheathing itself after a precisely paced film has just burned its many images into your retinas.

Soon after the climactic opening in which our anti-human lead is having passionate sex, the moans of delight turn into a forceful scream. We realize that like most women, the very thought of a domineering male can prove to be the ultimate fantasy and the most accessible fetish. Escaping Manchester as to not get beaten up by the family of the rape victim, Johnny pops in on his ex-girlfriend at her flat, which leads to many awkward situations and raw characteristics clashing, almost flammable to the touch.

"Well, basically, there was this little dot, right? And the dot went bang and the bang expanded. Energy formed into matter, matter cooled, matter lived, the amoeba to fish, to fish to fowl, to fowl to frog, to frog to mammal, the mammal to monkey, to monkey to man, amo amas amat, quid pro quo, memento mori, ad infinitum, sprinkle on a little bit of grated cheese and leave under the grill till Doomsday."

Enter Jeffrey, a bourgeois playboy who has it all but continues to take more. This archetype is one to loathe and Jeffrey (or Sebastien) creates such an intimidating and daunting character that you realize that Johnny is just a drifter who looks good by comparison with a true sort of evil. With the film slowly reeling forwards, one must make the connection that these two characters would meet but who knew when? Their long awaited encounter explodes into what might be the first example of making an anti-climax into art.

Never has a film had such raw monologues that prove the unscripted genius of that which is a lost form of theater known as improvisation. The mark of the beast is near us all. Naked is a bold sexual politic in a long list of cinema masterpieces. While not being entirely linear around a set plot point, this allows Mike Leigh to focus on much more important matters at hand. Each interaction is priceless. Naked is a film that is so cleverly cultured that it baffles me still, days after viewing.



Anonymous said...

this is a masterpiece for sure!

Both writing and acting are superb...

A must see of the 90's

Samuel Wilson said...

I'd agree that Thewlis's is one of the best performances in 90s cinema. It was really disappointing to see him turn up in dreck like Dragonheart later on, but maybe playing a good guy in the Potter films will give him better breaks in the future.