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Naked (1993)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

In a Manchester alleyway, a young man named Johnny is having rough sex with a woman. She begins to struggle, and what was initially a consensual act becomes a rape. Under threat of retribution, Johnny steals a car and flees to London.

The next morning, Johnny arrives at the house where his ex-girlfriend Louise rents a room. He meets her housemate, a neo-Goth named Sophie, and they drink tea and smoke dope together. Johnny dominates the conversation with a mixture of quick-fire black humour and barroom philosophy. He is well read and opinionated, but extremely disillusioned and pessimistic about contemporary society and the human condition.

When Louise arrives home from work, Johnny is aggressive towards her, ridiculing her home and her job. After Louise has gone to bed, he and Sophie have sex. Louise lies awake, listening. The next day, Sophie follows Johnny around and tries to empathise with him, much to his irritation. Back at the house they again have sex, but this time Johnny is violent, and repeatedly hits her head on the arm of the sofa. Later that evening, he antagonises both Louise and Sophie and then storms off.

Wandering the streets near the West End of London, Johnny meets a Scottish youth, Archie, who is looking for his lost girlfriend, Maggie. Johnny tries to help, but also taunts and makes fun of the aggressive and inarticulate Archie. Later, when Archie has gone off to continue his search, Johnny meets Maggie and walks with her until Archie returns, philosophising as he does so. The young Scottish couple disappear into the night, abusing one another verbally and physically.

While sheltering in the doorway of an unoccupied office block, Johnny strikes up a conversation with Brian, the security guard responsible for the building. They exchange views for some time, Brian's fundamental optimism contrasting sharply with Johnny's apparently nihilistic prediction of the world's end. Looking out of a window, they see a woman in a nearby flat, who Brian regularly spies upon. Johnny goes to the flat, and the woman invites him in for a drink. She is clearly attracted to Johnny, but he insults her and, while she sleeps, steals some books and leaves.

He meets Brian again, and they go for breakfast in a local café. Brian tells Johnny about his dream of retiring to a cottage in Ireland. Johnny wanders the streets again and then returns to the café. The young waitress takes him home and offers him food, drink, a bath and a bed for the night. However, when he tells her that she has a sad face, the waitress turns on him and orders him out. He curses her savagely, but goes.

Back at the shared house, Sophie is intimidated by a well-dressed young man, Jeremy, who turns up claiming to be the landlord. She submits to violent sex with him. When Louise returns, they escape to the pub together, hoping that Jeremy will have left by the time they get home. A third housemate, a nurse called Sandra, returns home from holiday.

That night, Johnny is assaulted twice. He is first beaten up after pointlessly goading a bill-poster, but then suffers a more serious and unprovoked attack by a gang of youths, who steal the bag containing most of his possessions. When he returns to the house, he is delirious and has a badly injured leg. Jeremy sneers at him and then makes a crude pass at Louise, who threatens him with a kitchen knife. Jeremy leaves, and Louise tends to Johnny, offering to hand in her notice and return to Manchester with him in the morning. Johnny agrees, but she goes to work the next day; Johnny takes some money left behind by Jeremy and limps away down the road, alone.