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Juliet, Naked Review - Charming Romantic Comedy About Love in the Modern Age

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Juliet, Naked, from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, presents a quirky story of internet romance as a reclusive rocker, his biggest fan and his girlfriend, find the lost art of sincere writing becomes the passion that pulls them together.

Directed by Jesse Peretz, Juliet, Naked stars Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Dodds, Ayoola Smart and Azhy Robetson as Jackson Crowe. Juliet, Naked was written by Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor, and Tamara Jenkins based on the novel by Nick Hornby.

The film begins with Duncan, played by Chris O’Dowd, running a podcast for his website dedicated to the reclusive rocker Tucker Crowe, played by Ethan Hawke.


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Duncan, during this first bit bills himself as the authority on the elusive musician and with the background of Duncan’s mancave showing Tucker Crowe Playbills and posters we can see Duncan has developed quite an affection for the man behind the music.

We met sensible Annie, played by Rose Byrne, Duncan’s girlfriend, who has grown old before her time, and retired her desires and dreams to her hometown exchanging them for life in a beautiful house by the sea in a small town on the southeast coast of England. Now the curator of the local museum, taking over for her father before he passed, she stays on as life over these last 15 years have become predictably comfortable.

One day as Annie and Duncan are playing house a previously unheard demo arrives from Tucker Crowe’s label arrives, and without thinking she opens the package and begins to listen to the music. Before she realizes it she has stopped her afternoon routine and is lying on the bed absorbed.

For someone who has spent the last 15 years in a pseudo-relationship with this person, today was probably the first time she heard him. Just then, Duncan comes home, and of course, as Tucker is his bromance, how dare she open the envelope and even more of a betrayal she listens to the CD first. As he says, "The room stinks of betrayal." Harsh, over-the-top and dramatic.

The new CD becomes the subject of his latest blog post of which Annie decides to respond with an opposing view. The funny thing about the bogs and avatars one never knows who one may be writing the words that challenge or affirm our views. Duncan, of course, was railing against a particular opinion and didn’t know it was hers until she told him.

As her sister, played by Megan Dodds, her only confident she explains as they walk along the shore about the blog, and writing her opinion and well with that she ended up getting a reply . . from the real Tucker Crowe.

The email becomes oddly her secret psudo-romance as now she and her lover are both involved with the same man. Not that way as she clarifies, his obsession and her email romance, has become the biggest change in their relationship in the last 15 years.

Soon that one email began an email relationship with truths that one has yet to whisper aloud  and are somehow easier to write and reflect on the meaning later.

When he seems equally willing to share the dark times, when he believed his own hype and his behavior modeled it, and left him with five children, from different women, one who is getting the best of him, one who is angry, two who don’t care and one who doesn’t acknowledge his existence.

Even as he describes his past mistakes, he also admits fucking up the first half of your life allows you some time to fix it, the fixing part isn’t as easy as he would hoped.

She is also willing to admit life in predictable land isn’t as rosy as it appears and with wanting to have a baby on the horizon and Duncan, not willing to consider children. She is really approaching a cross roads.

As fate would have it, Tucker’s daughter Lizzie, played by Ayoola Smart, is having a baby. Wanting the baby to be born in London, she returns to her home and he decided to visit and bring his young son, Jackson, played by Azhy Robertson, with him.

Although the pummeling of the past decades has shaken him somewhat, with the new baby as a good enough reason he, with a possible slip into his former self, a girl in every port, asks Annie if she like to meet.

Juliet, Naked is a smart, quirky modern romantic comedy. With fresh dialogue and a talented cast, the dialogue is delivered with truth and more than genuine it is the exactness of the dialogue. It is probably the freshest, real, honest and engaging dialogue on screen in some time. One can see these conversations in email and with the young son, Jackson, happening.


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The talented cast gives honest, inviting, magnetic performances. Chris O’Dowd plays the obsessed, intellectual middle aged, my way or the highway opinionated, fan who sees no other truth but his own with authenticity. Rose Byrne captures the essence of her character and is charming as she navigates her indecisiveness and her frustration in her choices.

Ethan Hawke delivers another thruthful performance as the aging rocker, hidden away finding himself, as the pinnacle moment of his career ended when he was hit in the face with a reality. Life, it seems when one attains ones dreams can cause them to implode. Surviving the implosion he abandoned the part of him that had produced rot and returned to a man of simple means. He plays this role with perfection.

Juliet, Naked opens August 17, 2018. See it. I’m glad I did.

 

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