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Juliet, Naked – Review

Juliet, Naked Review
Juliet, Naked Review
Juliet, Naked Review


Release Date: 2 November 2018
Director: Jesse Peretz
Writer: Evgenia Peretz - Jim Taylor - Tamara Jenkins - [Screenplay] - Nick Hornby [Novel]
Cast: Rose Byrne - Ethan Hawke - Chris O’Dowd



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Posted November 19, 2018 by

Juliet, Naked – Review

Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) is obsessed with has-been musician Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). He has a blog dedicated to dissecting Tucker’s album ‘Juliet’, singing his praises, and discussing theories about where Tucker disappeared to mid-way through his final performance.

This obsession was cute for a while, but now, it’s becoming a bit too much for his partner, Annie (Rose Byrne). Annie feels neglected, lost, and purposeless. It doesn’t help that Duncan and Annie’s joint decision to not have a child has come back to haunt her. Annie is now desperate for one, but Duncan can’t bear the thought of it.

When Duncan is sent a demo tape of Tucker’s seminal album, entitled ‘Juliet, Naked’, Annie ends up listening to it first, because Duncan never checks their mail. While she thinks the album was atrocious, Duncan is mesmerized by it. He writes a glowing review on his blog, prompting Annie to write a long, cutting comment refuting his appraisal. Unbeknownst to Annie, a certain someone, 3500 miles away, approves of her opinion.

Juliet, Naked - Rose Byrne

Tucker Crowe has been living in his ex-wife’s garage for years, looking after his youngest child, Jackson, while living off royalties. Tucker has had an eventful life – his music career was over before it even began, he was steeped in decades of drug abuse, endless affairs, and five children, almost all of them with different women. What he wants right now is something resembling happiness.

What neither Annie, Duncan, nor Tucker can imagine is that their paths are going to intersect in extraordinary ways. Their lives are never going to be the same again.

A few years ago, I marathon-read a bunch of Nick Hornby novels. I got annoyed by his recurring use of the man-child protagonist and gave up before reading Juliet, Naked. This film makes me wish I hadn’t.

Aside from the first quarter, which focuses on Duncan and his Tucker obsession, the majority of the film is about Annie navigating her life, and finding hope in Tucker. It was a subversion of my expectations and made me absolutely love this film.

It does help that Juliet, Naked is unabashedly optimistic. There were so many times in this film where I was worried that the tone would become bleak, but instead the film consistently moves forward, giving the characters chances at redemption and ways to find happiness.

But this film is also about consequences and having to deal with them, no matter how difficult they are. Tucker’s playboy life isn’t something he can escape from. In an uncomfortable, albeit hilarious, scene, Tucker is confronted by almost all his ex-girlfriends and his children about his wayward ways. It prompts him to work harder to mend the broken ties in his unconventional family.

Ethan Hawke, Rose Byrne and Chris O'Dowd - Juliet, Naked

Similarly, Duncan, who cheats on Annie, and is consequently dumped, has to learn to grow up if he is to be worthy of her affection again.

The cast do a superb job and infuse their characters with realism. O’Dowd is almost too good as the insufferable, self-obsessed Duncan. He completely disappears into the role, which I found surprising as he so often struggles to disengage his characters from himself.

Rose Byrne plays Annie as wistful and hopeful, but manages to be an everywoman who is also charming. Her accent sometimes felt forced but, for the most part, she sounded seamless.

Ethan Hawke - Juliet, Naked

Ethan Hawke was an absolute joy to watch. His Tucker is sincere, yet slovenly, well-intentioned but misguided. He had excellent chemistry with the cast, particularly with Byrne, and really lit up the screen. I do feel that the character was meant to be played by someone older than Hawke, but he made the role his own, nonetheless.

Juliet, Naked was also beautiful to watch. The cinematography was gorgeous and the lighting was particularly easy on the eye.

My only slight niggle with the film was that Byrne had a very obvious injury on her finger that could not be hidden from the camera. I do wish they had included a scene in the film about where the injury came from because it catches the viewer by surprise. Kudos to Byrne for performing through it, though!

I really wasn’t expecting to like this film but I ended up loving it. For about two hours, I felt like I was whisked away to a whole other world full of hope. Right now, with the world the way it is, this is just the kind of film we all need.


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Louis Skye
Freelance Contributor

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