Director: Mike Leigh
The Film: It shouldn’t work: a loosely structured 1993 film with a despicable protagonist who wanders London aimlessly and brutalizes everyone who tries to show him kindness. But it does, brilliantly, thanks in no small part to David Thewlis’ uncompromising performance.
The Significance: Mike Leigh’s gift for shaping naturalism came to full, devastating flower in this tour de force. Like the ballet of violence that characterizes Sam Peckinpah’s work, Leigh lends a sad grace to the emotional brutality that the characters display to each other, culminating in an indelible final shot.
The Features: A video introduction from Neil LaBute (the new auteur of emotional cruelty) and a conversation between Leigh and author Will Self.