Film, Film Review

REVIEW: Juliet, Naked (2018) dir. Jesse Peretz


As someone who has become something of a connoisseur of the works of Ethan Hawke, watching a film that opens with a man waxing rhapsodic about the music of a former rock star played by Ethan Hawke proved… interesting. Fortunately, this fanboy, played to dumpy perfection by Chris O’Dowd, is not the star of Juliet, Naked. That honor belongs to Rose Byrne, who is a winning force in this gentle little film. If nothing else, it proves that Byrne deserves far more starring roles than she currently has.

Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked is about one woman’s attempts to grow beyond her borders– self-imposed and otherwise. Annie (Byrne) lives in a quiet seaside town with her film professor boyfriend Duncan (O’Dowd). Duncan has spent his entire adult life idolizing 90’s rock star Tucker Crowe (Hawke), and Annie has spent the past fifteen years barely tolerating this obsession. When Duncan freaks out over Annie’s unimpressed reaction to some recently discovered Crowe demos, she decides to leave a scathing review on Duncan’s Crowe fansite. Who should reply but Tucker Crowe himself!

Tucker and Annie start an email correspondence, each reveling in this uncharted territory. They tell each other things they’re scared to bring up with the people in their lives, and are both sliding into romantic territory. The film slows down upon Crowe’s introduction, but things pick up again once Crowe finds his way to London, where he and Annie can finally meet.

Juliet, Naked isn’t trying to be revolutionary. It’s just a gentle, sweet story about two people in desperate need of connection who happen to find themselves along the way. Rose Byrne is a constant delight, and Ethan Hawke is as committed as always. It’s not hard to picture his character from Reality Bites ending up like Tucker Crowe. He imbues a character that could come across as sleazy or tiresome with real heart. Overall, Juliet, Naked is worth a watch, one that may leave you smiling and humming along to the Tucker Crowe earworms featured throughout.

(Please listen to Hawke Cast if you want more discussions of Ethan Hawke’s work.)


Juliet, Naked
dir. Jesse Peretz
105 min.

Now playing at Kendall Square Cinema and Coolidge Corner Theatre


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