31 August 2004 | ginger_sonny
Powerful, wearing, tough to stomach yet has to be seen
One of the most powerful British films of the 90s. Mike Leigh directs David Thewlis in an unrelenting, uncompromisingly cynical portrayal of self-loathing and alienation
In this, Leigh's toughest, most uncompromising work for cinema, Thewlis turns in a stunningly uningratiating performance. He utterly immerses himself in the role of Johnny, an articulate, disenfranchised angry young man, who's escaped Manchester after a bit of rough outdoor sex turns into something a lot like rape.
Johnny flees to London to hook up with an old girlfriend Louise (Sharp). While wandering around the city he gives free rein to his unfocused rage and indulges in some further degrading sexual encounters, notably with the dippy and compliant Sophie (Cartlidge).
This is brilliant stuff, but hard to stomach. Once again Leigh proves what a big problem he has with London's bourgeoisie, particularly with his portrayal of the smooth, sexually exploitative Jeremy (Cruttwell).
Leigh gives us so little to cling to here. There is barely a symphathetic character aside from security guard Brian (Wright), who dreams of escaping to Ireland. So the viewer is stuck with the edgy autodidact Johnny. It's an immensely powerful film about self-loathing and urban alienation, but, Thewlis' remarkable performanace notwithstading, staying the two hour distance is asking for a lot, even from die-hard Leigh fans.