Opening November 15, 2018
Directed by: Jesse Peretz
Writing credits: Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor, Tamara Jenkins, Nick Hornby
Principal actors: Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd, Ethan Hawke
Adapted from Nick Hornby’s novel, Juliet, Naked is both funny and sad and an endearing tale about taking chances and starting over. Annie (Rose Byrne) is frustrated with her stale relationship with Duncan (Chris O’Dowd). As a museum director in a small coastal town in England, Annie’s life is predictable and unsatisfying and Duncan teaches a class on television in a third-rate college, television being the only thing in life he thinks has value. But his consuming passion is his obsession of a minor rock musician who hasn’t been heard from for twenty years. He runs a fan website for Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) who, he and a couple of hundred other sad-sack followers think, was a musical genius. The only time he demonstrates any passion toward Annie is when he gets angry at her for posting a derogatory comment on his website. Annie’s post, however, draws a response from Tucker Crowe, who happens to agree with her. Annie and Tucker begin an email correspondence in which they each expose their true feelings about themselves and their lives.
The performances in this character-driven film were spot-on. Chris O’Dowd’s pathetic boor Duncan was hilarious and his ultimate takedown by his idol was very satisfying. Rose Byrne demonstrated her unhappiness without a word and left one wondering how self-absorbed Duncan had to be to miss it. Ethan Hawke shuffled and slogged his way to a convincing portrayal of Tucker who dropped out of life as well as music and ran away from every responsibility he ever had.
We don’t know where Annie and Tucker end up (and don’t care about Duncan) but we do know that for the first time in a long time they are finally moving. It’s a bittersweet story with lots of humor and a nice message about taking chances in life. Spoiler alert: Tucker does return to music and Duncan’s review of his new album is priceless – don’t leave until you see it. Juliet, Naked is a thoroughly entertaining movie. (Anne C.)