Not So Happy-Go-Lucky: Back in Time with Mike Leigh’s Naked


Mike Leigh’s latest (in Manhattan theaters now) is Happy-Go-Lucky, an apt title for a film about London’s most optimistic kindergarten teacher (Sally Hawkins). Leigh will be on hand for a screening of Happy-Go-Lucky at Scandinavia House this Sunday, as one of the Museum of the Moving Image’s Pinewood Dialogues. However, if you prefer the darker side of Leigh’s disposition, Scandinavia House will also offer, on Saturday, the director’s most notorious film, Naked (1993), a movie whose louche spirit is captured perfectly in its iconic poster (featuring star David Thewlis peering luridly between a pair of stockinged legs). Although Naked kicks off with one of the most disturbing opening scenes in film history—we see Thewlis, from behind, raping a woman in an alley—the real shock value is in how Leigh gradually draws us into the depraved soul of his protagonist. A Manchester native, Leigh gives cinematic expression in Naked to the particular kind of working-class English despair that The Smiths used to write songs about. You wouldn’t know it from Happy-Go-Lucky, but heaven knows he must have been miserable then.—Benjamin Strong