MOVIE REVIEW: Nick Hornby’s Novel ‘Juliet, Naked’ Comes to the Silver Screen as Relatable Romantic Comedy

A comic account of life’s second chances

Annie (Rose Byrne) is stuck in a long-term relationship with Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) – an obsessive fan of obscure rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). When the acoustic demo of Tucker’s hit record from 25 years ago surfaces, its release leads to a life-changing encounter with the elusive rocker himself. Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked is a comic account of life’s second chances.

Juliet, Naked is a delightful romantic comedy set in a small English seaside town. The film stars Rose Byrne (Spy, Bridesmaids), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, Molly’s Game), and multiple Academy Award nominated actor Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Dead Poets Society).

Prior to screening the film, I had not viewed the trailer or read anything about it. Juliet, Naked was a joy to watch. I thought it was charming and I really enjoyed the storyline. The film is relatable because it examines the relationships between parents and children, siblings, a rocker and an ardent fan, along with friends and lovers.

Director Jesse Peretz is mostly known for his television work and a few small films. In his feature film debut, he delivers a film that explores relationships, dreams and second chances. Juliet, Naked is a gem just waiting to be enjoyed by audiences.

The opening scene with Chris O’Dowd as Duncan, the fervent fan of a reclusive musician (Ethan Hawke) who vanished in the middle of a tour is hilarious. I loved the narrative. O’Dowd is perfectly cast for this role. He nailed it. Rose Byrne was fantastic as Annie. She captures the essence of her character – a woman who for many years has been in a relationship with Duncan who appears to care more for the lost rocker than he does his own girlfriend.

Duncan is so self-absorbed in his quest to find out what happened to Crowe 20 years ago that he does not focus on his relationship with Annie. The turning point occurs with the arrival of a CD in the mail of Crowe’s last album Juliet. Duncan is overjoyed and pens a review on his blog that praises the album. Annie, who usually looks the other way, decides to take action and writes a critical review of the demo.

Her actions open a door to a friendship with the rocker himself. Ethan Hawke was superb as the rocker Tucker Crowe. He portrayed a man who was trying to make things right after years of messing them up. It was sweet to watch the friendship develop between Tucker and Annie. The addition of Azhy as Tucker’s son Jackson created a meaningful layer that added depth to the film.

Director of photography Remi Adefarasin did a wonderful job with the landscapes, close ups and use of natural light. I loved his work in Me Before You and Elizabeth and look forward to his next foray.

Juliet, Naked opens Friday, September 7 at AMC Orange Park 24, Regal Beach Boulevard 18 and Epic Village St. Augustine 16.

– Leigh Ann Rassler

Release Date: August 17, 2018
Running Time: 1 hour and 38 minutes
Rated R for language
Grade: B+
Directed by: Jesse Peretz
Written by: Evgenia Peretz and Jim Taylor & Tamara Jenkins
Based on the novel by Nick Hornby

Rose Byrne as Annie
Ethan Hawke as Tucker Crowe
Chris O’Dowd as Duncan
Azhy Robertson as Jackson Crowe
Ayoola Smart as Lizzie Crowe
Denise Gough as Gina

About Leigh Ann Rassler