... we don't talk about it.
Because the film is so polarizing, I can understand the opposing view. Namely that Naked is "cynical", "bitter", "bleak", "misogynistic", "hateful". Obviously, I see it differently, because those are terms I often place upon films I dislike from our current nihilistic era.
To me, Naked is one of cinema's greatest expressions of misplaced human rage. Anger and frustration and regret rising up in a man so full to his throat that it can go nowhere except onto the shoes of the people around him.
How does Mike Leigh see Johnny (David Thewlis)? : "Johnny's an idealist, certainly not a cynic, which is how he's often portrayed."
Recently, in line with the British release of Naked on DVD, Mike Leigh and David Thewlis (who plays Johnny) spoke to the Guardian about the danger of the method acting in Naked; specifically about the street corner scene between Johnny and Archie (Ewen Bremner):
"Mike told me to hang round the church steps and then an actor - he didn't say who - would turn up," recalls Thewlis down the line from LA. "When Ewan came along, I didn't recognise him - it was before he was in Trainspotting. He was speaking in this impenetrable Scottish accent. He might have been an actor, but he might have just been an annoying Scotsman. I just followed the motivation of the character." Even if it involved stabbing someone with a sharpened screwdriver? "Yeah. Most of you is really engrossed in what the character would do. " How did you get the screwdriver? "I'd stolen it in character as Johnny."
Mike Leigh, sitting in his panelled office in Soho, remembers the fight differently. "I was standing across the street. Ewan was wandering around shouting, 'Maggie! Maggie!' because Archie was looking for his friend. Somebody leaned out of a window and told him to quiet down and he, in character, told them to fuck off.
"When the police arrived, I went over and said: 'I'm a director and we're making a film.' The officer asked where the camera was. I said we were improvising, and he wasn't convinced. So we had to take him back to our office and get others to corroborate the story." You stopped the improvisation? "I always do if there's a chance of violence - or if two characters are going to fuck." (Guardian)
In fact, there is peace in Johnny's eyes when he shares a moment with his ex-girlfriend Louise. She's the one person who can humble him, shrink that intellectual power of his down to a paper-thin shield.
Aided by the score, and classic last shot, Naked ends ominously. But Johnny's story is one that cannot end. That's why Leigh cuts to black. You take it with you. To be continued... Johnny as optimist??? I don't if Mike Leigh would go that far. But maybe I could.