Archive for October 25th, 2009

Naked (no 42)

naked 1

(UK 1993 131m) DVD1/2

The end of the world is nigh

p  Simon Channing-Williams  d/w  Mike Leigh  ph  Dick Pope  ed  Jon Gregory  m  Andrew Dickson  art  Alison Chitty

David Thewlis (Johnny), Lesley Sharp (Louise), Katrin Cartlidge (Sophie), David Wight (Brian), Greg Crutwell (Jeremy), Claire Skinner (Sandra), Ewen Bremner (Archie), Susan Vidler (Maggie), Gina McKee (girl in café), Deborah MacLaren (woman in window),

If ever a film demanded to be referred to as apocalyptic, this was it.  If ever a film demanded to be referred to as nihilistic, call off the hounds, it’s here.  Yet to merely pigeonhole this film or attach such vague terms as these is an act of gross misunderstanding, for in many ways this is the very antithesis of nihilistic.  Here is a film about a society, and a protagonist, crying out for something to believe in.  At the time of its release, it shocked people, in the way too few films shock.  It may have won the big prizes at Cannes in its year, but it was ignored at most end of year award ceremonies.  True, 1993 was probably the greatest cinematic year of its decade, with masterpieces by Kieslowski, Spielberg and Campion also emerging above the horizon, but Leigh’s film has always been there, lingering like a bad smell that won’t go away.  Over ten years on, what at first seemed merely a radical change of direction for Leigh, and a graduation to cinematic maturity, now in many ways seems the most essential British film of its decade. 

            Johnny is an unemployed (unemployable?) Mancunian who leaves Manchester in a hurry after a sexual encounter in an alley (one assumes his rape of a married woman, who threatens to get him beaten up).  He steals a car and hotfoots it down to London, where on a whim he goes to the home of his ex, Louise, who has been working as a secretary in the city.  Finding her not in, he is let in by Louise’s unemployed flatmate, Sophie, and they spend the day chatting together waiting for Louise to get home.  Thus begins Johnny’s odyssey in the capital, one that will be a life changer for many he meets. (more…)

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