Naked by Mike Leigh
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about naked

Naked (1993) was written and directed by Mike Leigh.

See a trailer at videodetectives large online preview archive.

about mike leigh

An interview with Mike Leigh from Combustible Celluloid.

Audio interview from the BBC with Mike Leigh

United Manchester presents Mike Leigh.

A 2002 interview from Oxford Student. (Home Counties accent and Bunty braids, mind)

Curriculum Vitae

An online bio for Mike Leigh. Salon's interview with Mike Leigh.

From The Onion AV Club interview with Mike Leigh

O: Well, I ask because it just seems like the period language is such a different ballgame than contemporary dialogue.

ML: Yes, but whichever of my films you've seen, what you're seeing are people, again, not just playing themselves, not just exercising their egos, but actually doing somebody with a considerable amount of care and consideration into the nature of the project. There's always some kind of research involved. For example, David Thewlis [as the street philosopher in Naked] read everything the guy had read. Therefore, it becomes a positive and sophisticated collaboration, rather than me being stuck with childlike, stupid actors who keep fucking it all up because they don't know how to do it right. It isn't their territory. It's grown-ups doing sophisticated work.

about the actors

Naked stars David Thewlis, Katrin Cartlidge, Greg Cruttwell, Lesley Sharp, Claire Skinner, and Peter Wight.

Salon article by Allison Anders about the late lovely Katrin Cartlidge.


Googled on a Mike Leigh info site: anonymously contributed on March 28, 2003. I recently saw a film of Mike Leigh's, NAKED, while on LSD. It made me ill. A mark of a brilliance? Yes, if you like Marylin Manson and his take on Nietzsche. I do. Do you? I digress. Naked... James Joyce inspired? Dubliners? Ulysses in the modern times? Hamlet and Oedipus? I have 2 suggestions: Learn to swim and read the works of Joseph Campbell.

In a review by Josh Avram, Dylan Kidd said of his debut film Roger Doger that Mike Leigh's Naked (along with Mike Nichols' Carnal Knowledge) was an influence. "Naked and Carnal Knowledge are rife with class warfare and sexual conquest. They're the sort of films that suicidal nihilists watch and walk away muttering, 'Man, that was depressing.' "

James Berardinelli's review of the film adds this: "A reckless, restless intensity pervades Naked as it follows Johnny on his odyssey through London. The film's mood and tone change suddenly and frequently, but never radically. It could be argued that the running length is a little on the long side, but it's hard to figure which scenes could have been cut. Don't expect a happy ending, or a happy anything, for that matter."

Rotten Tomatoes gives Naked a fresh rating of 93% based on 15 reviews.

Rotten Tomatoes synopsis: Mike Leigh's NAKED is a violent, penetrating study of an angry young man who lives a dark night of the soul wandering through London's depths, preaching humanity's inevitably approaching demise. After a sexual confrontation--possibly a rape--Johnny (David Thewlis) flees his native Manchester for London, where he hopes to find shelter with his ex-girlfriend Louise (Lesley Sharp). Full of fury and blessed with a caustic wit, he rails futilely at all the societal mechanisms that oppress him, but vents his rage at women in particular. He immediately attacks Louise's bourgeois career aspirations, and pits her against her vulnerable, drugged-out roommate, Sophie (Katrin Cartlidge), in a competition for his affections. When Johnny begins to chafe under Sophie's desperate neediness, he disappears aimlessly into the city, where he meets a variety of social outcasts, including an alcoholic waitress (Gina McKee) and a lonely security guard (Peter Wight). Disgusted with the ever-present savagery of post-modern Britain, Johnny eventually returns to Louise after he is viciously beaten up. There, he encounters Jeremy (Greg Cruttwell), a mirror image of himself in the guise of a modern materialist, who has abused Louise and Sophie in even more humiliating ways. One of the most intense and sardonic films of the 1990s, NAKED features an electrifying performance by Thewlis.

One review I read, about the movie Momento and by Matt George, snuck in a concise review of Naked rather inadverdently. On Forgetting Momento: "But a film like Mike Leigh's Naked is nihilistic as well, and yet Naked invites us to see the social consequences, or even, perhaps, lets us witness the deeply embedded social fabric that nihilism shreds. When the protagonist of Naked limps off at the end of the film we know that we identify with this pathetic rapist asshole at our own peril, but we take the risk in order to see what he sees, to see the world falling apart at his reverse Midas' touch. What we see as well is the world that produces the subjectivity of Naked's evil protagonist."

Johanna Mead posts a lovely internet dissertation on Naked on her website. "[e]ven Margaret Thatcher cannot be blamed for Johnny's behavior, but his cynicism and retreat into metaphysical, Sophistic arguments, ... where the real world cannot intrude is a reaction to the bleakness of England."

One heathen lout reviewer ;) named Christopher Null said "Call me a heathen and a lout, but Naked put me to sleep. Twice. I've never been a big Mike Leigh fan ... but Naked is so grim and oppressive I honestly can't see its appeal, even to Leigh's biggest fans."

Yes, it's grim and oppressive. Yes... yes it is. That's just it. It's grim and oppressive. Grim. Oppressive. Very grim and oppressive.

Some of the review terms I liked best were:

Jonathan R. Perry's "Raw, haunting and indelible. Where's David Thewlis' Oscar?"

Ken Hanke's "Fascinating, but slightly off-putting"

Victor Olliver's "Fantastically grim and left field."

My favourite review comes from
"decadence. dystopia. rain. england."
by Karaoz of Istanbul.

hunting a copy

The VHS is rare enough, but the DVD is like an animal you've heard of but never seen. I found the DVD listed at Planet DVD. Sadly, it was out of stock, though the lovely people at Planet DVD let me know that an order was coming back in if I wasn't able to find it else where. Though I lucked up and found it on Ebay at an excellent price and in excellent condition. Thus, if you are searching, keep trying. Verify that your DVD player will play all region DVD's, or fix it so it can. (Google for that info if you don't know someone who can recode it for you.) You don't want to give up this search. It is worth the suffering and the waiting.


Mike Leigh
Cannes - 1993 Best Director
Sudbury Cinéfest - 1993 Best International Film
Toronto International Film Festival - 1993 Metro Media Award

David Thewlis
Cannes Film Festival - 1993 Best Actor
Evening Standard British Film Awards - 1994 Evening Standard British Film Award
London Critics Circle Film Awards - 1994 ALFS Award
National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA - 1994 NSFC Award
New York Film Critics Circle Awards - 1993 NYFCC Award