Directed by: Jesse Peretz
Written by: screenplay by: Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor, Tamara Jenkins, based on the novel by: Nick Hornby
Featuring: Chris O’Dowd, Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Lily Brazier, Phil Davis
Duncan works as lecturer in a seaside town college but he has one overriding passion a dedication to one album wonder, Tucker Crowe. The musician wrote and recorded one album after a relationship broke down and then was never heard of again. Duncan thinks the album was the greatest ever recorded and has dedicated his life to finding out as much as he can about Tucker Crowe and trying to covert all those that haven’t heard his music. Unfortunately Duncan has a long-suffering partner, Annie, too. When Annie accidentally starts an unlikely online romance with Tucker Crowe himself nothing good will seemingly come of it.
I am not obsessive about much and certainly not music, I am one of those weird people to whom music has no massive presence in their life. Having said this I did know lads at school that obsessed over groups and brought Japanese print only vinyl for £100 of any group they took a shine to, they went to concerts all over the UK, talked all day about their obsession. So this film seemed very familiar with the opening ten minutes.
Juliet, Naked is light and funny for most of the running time with the three main characters well played by Chris O’Dowd, again, Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke, who I could believe was not stretching himself, I’m sure I’m wrong but I think he lives a bit like Tucker Crowe. O’Dowd, in particular, seems to know exactly what obsessive to the point of unhealthy and dull to be around is through his performance but you have to suppose a lot of actors and especially the females, might well know where that side of ‘fandom’ comes from.
Annie is cautious and bit frightened of her own shadow, she puts up with a lot, it’s me for goodness sake. I felt Rose Byrne got this right too – despite being a lead in the story it is the one part that should not be showy but if anything underplayed, almost wallpaper, I thought the Australian actress got this virtually spot on. If there was one misstep in the characters it was Annie’s lesbian sister that just seemed to be a lesbian and her sister for laughs and nothing else, a bit of frippery.
Throughout the story the hands of Nicky Hornby are all over this. As an author he can write true to life authentic, sympathetic, deeply flawed, ordinary folk, that behave in a realistic manner. Sometimes these characters do not transfer to the silver screen so well, in the case of Juliet Naked the hit rate is much higher than the miss rate.
The location was generic English seaside town, actually Broadstairs in Kent, but like most Hornby creations it is irrelevant, it could be the States or Australia he is digging into people and their foibles. You have to admire his ability to crank out stories that mine the same rich vein but generally do not get too familiar or boring. Juliet, Naked is fun and enjoyable