The thought for the critically acclaimed 1993 movie Naked got here when director Mike Leigh was nonetheless younger and attending main faculty. Leigh tells The Guardian that he started to contemplate the tip of the world and the millennium due to a “very enlightened teacher who constantly reminded [him] that the next total eclipse would be in August 1999.” You is likely to be questioning what the apocalypse has to do with the themes of Naked, nevertheless it seems that a lot of Leigh’s tasks start this manner. Leigh prefers to develop free ideas and permit the tales and characters to develop naturally. According to The Guardian, the preliminary concepts for Mike Leigh’s motion pictures “bear only a little relation to the finished film, which is always a character-driven drama.”
The growth of the movie, like most of Leigh’s preliminary ideas, was extremely unconventional. Leigh met with actor David Thewlis (The Sandman, Harry Potter) earlier than he knew what Naked would appear to be. They narrowed down Thewlis’ character by inspecting males they knew in actual life and labored in direction of the fictional Johnny Fletcher via months of improvisation. As The Guardian recounts, at instances the improvisation between actors David Thewlis and Ewan Bremner bought so out of hand that the police would typically get entangled; Thewlis says that he “got dangerously close to the character.”
These ways paid off although and resulted in essential reward. Roger Ebert rated the movie 4 out of 4 stars, saying that Mike Leigh ventures past the standard fashionable film and presents a shocking piece of cinema with “no plot, no characters to identify with, and no hope. But there is care.” Here is why the 1993 movie Naked could also be the perfect film ever made about self-destruction.
Johnny Fletcher, the Problematic Antihero
The most obvious illustration of self-destruction in Naked is Johnny Fletcher himself. The movie follows Johnny after he rapes a girl in a Manchester alley and is chased away by her household. Seeking shelter and safety, Johnny arrives at his ex-girlfriend Louise’s residence and proceeds to attempt to seduce her roommate. Soon after, Johnny will get bored and wanders again onto the road the place he follows one other lady residence and is but once more chased and thrown again onto the road. He tries to pursue one other lady in a bar however is delay by her tattoo.
He meets Archie, a person with Tourette Syndrome who’s searching for his girlfriend, and Brian, a safety guard of an empty constructing, however returns shortly to his drifting. Eventually, after being crushed up by a road gang, Johnny returns to his ex-girlfriend’s to search out the owner, an unstable rapist, who has raped Louise’s roommate, Sophie. After Louise persuades the psychotic landlord to depart, she and Johnny reconcile, however but once more he returns to wandering the streets.
Despite Johnny’s poisonous angle in direction of ladies and his tendency to poke the bear again and again, the person is curiously advanced and in some moments, very charming. Johnny has fleeting episodes of poetic perspective and cynical wit, and is self-aware of his harmful habits. Although he leaves violence and abuse in his wake, he gives insights in regards to the finish of the world and life itself. According to Taste of Cinema, it has been theorized that Johnny is likely to be a “modern messiah” and a “flawed but forgiving Jesus attempting to change the lives of those in his sphere.” However, it’s extra probably that this violent character represents a darker and unbalanced model of our personal actuality. Johnny portrays a cyclical habit to ache and violence, though he is supplied with some factors of exit.
The Self-Destruction is Made Real By the Cast
Upon watching Naked, there’s something shockingly actual in regards to the responses and habits of the movie’s characters. This is probably going resulting from Mike Leigh’s small, 25-page script and use of improvisation earlier than the venture was really shot. As we talked about earlier, The Guardian relays an episode of this improvisation the place issues bought out of hand. David Thewlis, who portrays Johnny, was informed by Leigh to attend on some church steps for an additional actor, Ewan Bremner, and to answer Bremner as Johnny. Thewlis remembers that it was troublesome to come back out of character as a result of “all of you is engrossed in what the character would do.” This explains why Johnny is so plausible; not solely can we imagine the character, David Thewlis does too.
Thewlis tells The Guardian that he and the remainder of the solid would go to the pub and different public locations in character. Both Leigh and Thewlis say this course of, although typically excessive, was “essential” for presenting fully-realized characters. Naked stars the late, nice Katrin Cartlidge and Lesley Sharp, and each fell willingly into their characters of Sophie and Louise for prolonged durations of time as nicely. Each of those ladies feed into the themes of self-destruction as nicely, portraying ladies who fall for violent males and seemingly can not help themselves. According to Criterion, Leigh praised Cartlidge’s skill to “lose herself in the character” however nonetheless keep the “objective eye of an artist.” The solid, having lived within the self-destructive nature of their characters via months of improvisation, adopted the pure, conflicted responses of their characters.
Despite the movie’s realness and correct portrayal of self-destruction, reactions to the movie are blended and query whether or not the venture glorifies misogyny, contemplating how a lot abuse and struggling is onscreen. That being mentioned, Naked presents characters who appear to be drawn to this destruction, notably Johnny, although it hurts them each time. Mike Leigh’s Naked is accessible for streaming on Amazon Prime Video in sure international locations, and is accessible for buy on Blu-ray and DVD from The Criterion Collection.