Naked is my favourite Mike Leigh film (with Meantime coming in a close second) and not least because of a fantastic, career defining performance from David Thewlis as the vitriolic misanthrope Johnny, the unlikely anti-hero of the film.
Given Leighâ€™s famous approach to filmmaking; starting without a script and instead developing through a series of rehearsals and improvisations with the actors all the more credit is due to Thewlis, who spews forth some of the more extraordinary dialogue in equal amounts of bile and anger but never without brutal honesty and eloquence.
The film starts off with Johnny fleeing Manchester to London after apparently raping a woman, he turns up at the flat of ex-girlfriend Louise (Lesley Sharp), who is less than happy to see him, and embarks on a destructive relationship with her broken and overly dependent flatmate Sophie (Karin Cartlidge). Johnny drifts around London ranting at strangers and damaged individuals, including a particularly memorable scene involving an unfulfilled security guard whose job it is to watch over an empty office and another with a very young Ewen Bremner as Archie a homeless runaway.
Even for Mike Leigh this is a dark film, although it is never without humour, made in the uncertain times of port-Thatcherite Britain with its spiralling unemployment and nationwide discontent as we barrelled towards the new millennium. This was a landmark film for Leigh and it was his first to take him to Cannes where he won Best Director and Thewlis won Best Actor that year and although it is uniquely of its time Johnnyâ€™s preaching and contempt for humanity feels as relevant today as it was in 1993.
Louise: How did you get here?
Johnny: 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.