This week on Blu Monday we take a look at The Criterion edition of Naked. Naked is a film that relies on the conversations of its central characters more than the overall story itself. This is mostly due to the manner in which it was created, as Director Mike Leigh allowed his actors to find the characters before creating any central dialog. This dialog is what makes Naked so great and deems it worthy of the Criterion label.
The film follows Johnny, a homeless drifter that has left Manchester for London, to avoid any punishment he may receive after raping a girl in the film’s opening scene. When he arrives in London he searches for an old girlfriend in hopes to gain a bit of closure and find a warm place to stay. After a long night with his Ex’s roommate it seems Johnny may have found a place to stay, but quickly that relationship burns out and Johnny finds a new home in the streets. Being the attention seeker he is Johnny spends most of his time ranting at strangers and attacking their moral fiber, that is until his verbal attacks go too far.
Though at times hard to watch, it’s Johnny’s iteration with the people he meets that leaves you glued to every piece of dialog. Though the dialog is every reason to see this film it wouldn’t be a film called Naked without some kind of sexual encounters. Though never sensual these scenes of intimacy are meant to show the more animalistic and sadistic tendencies of the film’s characters. At times theses scenes are hard to watch and completely demeaning to the film’s female counterparts. But without these scenes the film loses a lot of its meaning.
As for the content of the disc itself Criterion has once again out done themselves. With an interview with filmmaker Neil LaBute, Episode of The Art Zone featuring an interview with Leigh, two essays on the film and a commentary featuring the stars of the film and Leigh himself where could you go wrong? Well that’s not all though with the short film, The Short and Curlies and with commentary from Leigh and starring Thewlis, you have a Blu Ray that demands attention.
The film pulled me in right from the start and never let go. It will sit proudly in my home collection and I highly suggest you add it to yours. The film’s take on every fabric of one’s moral being is monumental and something that is worthy of such praise. Those that attack the film of its misogyny are missing its message and if that is the only thing holding you back from seeing Naked I suggest you rethink your standing. While difficult to watch at points the overall outcome is well worth its cringing look on life as a whole and that is why I give Naked a But It.
By Ryan Davis