Full of bile and self-loathing, he speaks to anyone and everyone on the London streets with a rapid fire delivery, which either bamboozles them or provokes violence, or in the case of Louise's flatmate Sophie (the late Katrin Cartlidge), she falls in love with him. What does Johnny represent? A Britain torn apart by the policies of Thatcher? A Britain that has lost hope, that has lost its place in the world? Despite his moral ambiguity, there is at least a sense of sympathy about him, even though he lies, cheats and betrays. Maybe it's his fierce intellect - he's a slightly more dangerous Jimmy Porter using the power of language to assert himself. Contrast this with Louise and Sophie's landlord Jeremy (Gregg Crutwell), the prime example of Thatcher's policies run amok. A vulgar, nasty yuppie who spits people up and chews them out, who wants nothing more than to assert his control over others, Jeremy's existence makes Johnny seem a salvageable cause. It's another Leigh cliché about the vulgarity of the upwardly mobile middle class, albeit a far more contemptible and violent stereotype than we're used to.
'Naked' presents contemporary London is a raw and macabre light, a world away from the cosiness of Richard Curtis's London, with more in common with say Stephen Frears' 'Dirty Pretty Things' - certainly that's the only film I recall since than shows London in such a tourist unfriendly fashion. This is a film about lives on the edge, lived dangerously, with a true sense of something near apocalyptic about to occur. Johnny's self-destructive behaviour is all he has in a world that has cut him adrift; perhaps his sole means of revenge upon the world. 4/5