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JOHNNY IN THE CITY: MIKE LEIGH'S NAKED

In Mike Leigh’s films people don’t just talk, they stutter and struggle—against class, repression, hopelessness, the mother country, the King’s English. Arguably the most important director working in the U.K. today, Leigh has also been one of his country’s least bankable auteurs, turning out over a dozen features and a handful of shorts since 1971 that for the most part have been seen only on television. His new film, Naked, should scrape away at the director’s anonymity, not simply because it picked up awards for best director and best actor (for lead David Thewlis) at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, but because Leigh has left behind the superficially gentle whimsies of his last two films, High Hopes, 1988, and Life Is Sweet, 1990, and, entered the lower depths.

An anti-epic—retrofitted to the consciousness of an antihero raging into the close of a century, the end of the millennium—

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