Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Rated:  R

STARS: Ethan Hawke, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd
DIRECTOR: Jesse Peretz
GENRE: Romantic Comedy

When a great song from the sixties (in this case Marianne Faithful's "Come And Stay With Me") pops up in the middle of a film that is already beginning to win you over, you get the reassuring feeling that yes, they're going to bring it all home. And bring it home they do in the quirky (mostly) British romantic comedy, Juliet, Naked.

Annie (Rose Byrne) plays second fiddle to her flatmate Duncan's (Chris O'Dowd) obsession with a minor cult figure, musician Tucker Crowe, who seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth since making his brief splash in the early nineties. Duncan interacts with an online community of about 200 diehard Tucker fans--and when, in her exasperation, Annie posts a review of her own that is less than complimentary, she gets a personal response back from the real Tucker, who surprisingly agrees with her observations. Annie and Tucker begin an online dialogue, and at this point we know they are destined to meet, even though he lives in America and she's in England. Duncan learns nothing of his partner's budding friendship with his idol, until...until he does...at which point the comedic complications set in.

The irony is that nothing in Juliet, Naked is laid bare, save for our roller coaster emotions as we follow Annie and Tucker through a gauntlet of twists that involve, for one, when a bevy of kids that Tucker--like any rock musician doing his duty--has spawned from different mothers, show up. Annie likes kids, and wants to have one of her own, but will this be too much of a dose of reality for her? 

At the end, we're urging Annie not to make the wrong decision--it seems perfectly clear-cut--but we won't get the answer till the closing credits are ready to roll.

Ethan Hawke's Tucker is as affable as they come--for a flawed character; Rose Byrne gives an understated performance as Annie, content to be upstaged by O'Dowd's alternately priggish, confused, awe-struck, and righteously indignant Duncan.

 As movies go, Juliet, Naked may be the most fun you can have with your clothes on!

Grade:  A


I knew it!  I knew Tim would react the same way I did to this sparkler of a movie.  I went to see it with some trepidation since Ethan Hawke has done some pretty talky, overly self-indulgent films. (Before MidnightBefore SunriseBoyhood).  This time, however, the pace was just right and Hawke captured the character's quirkiness to perfection.  Hawke has played another real life musician in a movie I really dug titled Born To Be Blue about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker.  So this Austin-born actor knows what being on the road can do to man, his talent and, in particular, his relationships.  Even though the character Hawke portrays has been pretty damn irresponsible all his life, you like the guy anyway. 

I have to also tip my hat (if I was wearing one!) to director Jesse Peretz who also knows about the musician's life having been the bass guitarist and founding member of The Lemonheads, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based band formed in 1986.  As I read through Peretz' directing credits, I noticed one of my all-time favorite TV series listed:  Nurse Jackie.  The man definitely knows how to keep the story moving and the audience engaged.
I guess if I had to criticize anything about Juliet, Naked it would be the title.  Yes, it was the name of one of the character's albums,  Still, it seemed a choice to draw in audiences rather than anything intrinsic to the plot.  (It drew me in, that's for sure!)
You gotta go see this one!

Grade: A