After sexually assaulting a woman in London, acid-tongued ne'er-do-well Johnny (Thewlis) flees to Manchester and looks up his ex-girlfriend, Louise (Lesley Sharp). Johnny seduces her drug-addled roommate, Sophie (Cartlidge), but soon grows irritable and ventures out for a midnight jaunt, regaling every stranger he meets with his nihilistic worldview.
Leigh created his most disturbing and loathsome character in the garrulous drifter Johnny, but his brilliance is in making us empathize with this viciously sociopathic personality. Thewlis gives a virtuosic performance as Johnny, spewing abrasive, apocalyptic vitriol about women, God, and bourgeois society, when he isn't simply humiliating those in his immediate vicinity, like Louise and Sophie. Dreary settings and encounters with a variety of sad characters transform Johnny's bleak rants into an indictment of sorts against England's rotting welfare state. Not for all tastes, "Naked" is raw, fierce, and unforgettable.