Well it’s about God damned time, movie!
I actually have no idea what the deal was with this one. I’ve known about its existence for some time, since well earlier this year. Even IMDb at some point had said that the movie had already been released in, like, February, or something. That sort of disappointed me because I like both Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke, and the movie was getting some pretty stellar reviews, so I had assumed the movie simply wasn’t playing anywhere near me at the time. Sad Peruvian boy for days.
However, much to my surprise, I got a surprise trailer recently and I was absolutely delighted. Then that delight dwindled a bit when I started seeing how much the ratings were dropping for it. But I don’t care, I want to see it! I’m a sucker for rom-coms and life can’t tell me no! So shut your face-hole, life, ‘cuz I’m seeing this movie!
The story looks like it’s about a married British woman who feels like her marriage is falling apart, and obliviously childish husband is obsessed with a twenty-year retired American musician who just released a new album. In her jealousy, or annoyance, she writes a scathing review of his album to get a rise out of her husband. This inadvertently causes the musician to write her and completely agree with her on her comments and takes a visit out to Britain, possibly to see her. They meet up, they have some surprising chemistry and then the husband meets him, doesn’t believe it’s him at first, and eventually has his own jealousy sparked when it’s clear that the musician likes his wife and she may like him back.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Rose Byrne (PETER RABBIT , NEIGHBORS 2 , SPY , X-MEN: FIRST CLASS , STAR WARS: CLONES , and the upcoming INSTANT FAMILY ), Chris O’Dowd (CLOVERFIELD PARADOX , MOLLY’S GAME , MISS PEREGRINE , and THOR: THE DARK WORLD ), Ethan Hawke (FIRST REFORMED , MAUDIE , MAGNIFICENT SEVEN , and the upcoming STOCKHOLM ), and Lily Newmark (STAR WARS: SOLO , and upcoming films REPROBATE  and DAGENHAM ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Jesse Peretz, known for 3 episodes of GLOW (2017 – ongoing). Co-writing the script, making for a red flag total of three writers, we have Jesse Peretz’s sister, Evgenia Peretz (OUR IDIOT BROTHER ), Jim Taylor (DOWNSIZING  and JURASSIC PARK III ), and Tamara Jenkins (stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of). Composing the score is Nathan Larson, known for stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of. The cinematographer is Remi Adefarasin, known for ME BEFORE YOU (2016), JOHNNY ENGLISH (2003), and upcoming films WHERE HANDS TOUCH (2018) and FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY (2019). Finally, co-editing are Sabine Hoffman (ELVIS & NIXON , and the upcoming WELCOME TO PINE GROVE! ) and Robert Nassau (THE BIG SICK  and HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS ).
Overall, this looks like it might be good. A nice little twist of a man who loves an idol and falls out of love with that idol when that idol starts falling in love with his wife. I can’t say that it looks especially funny, but it looks passable enough as a likable movie.
This is my honest opinion of: JULIET, NAKED
Annie (Rose Byrne) is the underappreciated girlfriend of Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), who seems more in love with his music idol, the twenty-year retired alternative rock star, Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). Turns out, Duncan gets a package in the mail with an unreleased and unfinished album that Crowe has only recently released from his twenty-year absence. Annie listens to it, but is otherwise unimpressed with it and, in fit of frustration against Duncan who says something mean to her, posts a comment on Duncan’s Tucker Crowe message board about her disdain. While Duncan is otherwise unamused by it, it turns out that Tucker himself saw the comment and wrote his approval and agreement about the album and the two strike up a long-distance friendship. After some time, Tucker even drops the bomb that he’s visiting London to visit his daughter, Lizzie (Ayoola Smart), who is giving birth to his grandkid, and wants to get together with Annie while he’s in town, to which she agrees.
You know what? I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I expected something, not funny, but likable and charming. No, it turns out, this movie does get quite a few laughs out of me.
For starters, you can understand why Annie has become a fairly embittered person in the relationship that she’s in with Duncan. While harmless, he’s basically a man-child. He’s obsessed with Tucker Crowe and hosts an entire forum talking about his idol with other enthusiasts. His office is caked in Crowe memorabilia, like posters from his earlier years, apparently a picture of him in his high school chess club, or whatever Tucker eventually says, and rails off fan theories about where he’s been for twenty years. Again, harmless, but not in the moment with the girlfriend that he shares his home with.
What I especially enjoy is just how fluid and organic the connection is between Annie and Tucker. In this era of cyber chatting with people, it’s almost too easy to open up to a sympathetic stranger and treat them almost like a therapeutic program to confess your deepest darkest emotions, rather than a living, breathing human being. However, this movie does explore Annie’s frustrations enough to warrant such a waterfall of feelings and because there’s plenty of similarities between the two characters, it’s very easy to understand why they hit it off so well, even to the point of getting together in the flesh. I wholly understood the hows and whys of this and because these two characters are utterly charming and likable, it was surprising how much I wanted them to get together.
I especially loved just how chaotic everything got in the scenes that follow, particularly in the hospital after Tucker gets his heart attack. Somehow, Lizzie got in touch with every single ex-lover of Tucker’s, particularly those with siblings that she never knew about. As everyone comes flooding in with Annie caught dead in the middle of ex-wives and kids, Annie’s reactions were phenomenally priceless. Likewise, to see Tucker constantly trying to mediate between the chaos of accusations for attention, and pouring proverbial gasoline on the fire at the same time, this got some serious laughs out of me.
But the humor doesn’t end there. Duncan starts freaking out over no DD batteries in their house, but then Annie foregoes the batteries in her vibrator, that was hilarious, especially Duncan’s expression from where they came from, among so many other laughs that I wish I could quote.
However, as much as I enjoy this movie, there are a few issues that I have.
I don’t think the relationship between Annie and Duncan is very realistic, in terms of how long it’s lasted. When messaging Tucker, she mentions how she thinks her last fifteen years have been wasted, or something like that. So… wait, she and Duncan have been dating for fifteen years? Has marriage never come up? Not that couples need to get married, of course, but unless Britain does things completely differently than we Americans, marriage is a topic to talk about when dating for an extended period. But never mind that, that ultimately doesn’t bother me much. What does is just how long she’s known about his Tucker Crowe obsession. Like… was this always a thing for him? If so, how the hell could this relationship last for fifteen years if Duncan has always been an absent-minded man-child? I don’t know a woman who would put up with this for more than a few months, let alone fifteen years. And it’s not like Duncan has any real romantic redemption to him. I mean, is there any part of this man that the audience can get behind? College professor or not, he’s something of a romantic loser.
Finally, there’s a pretty dramatic subplot that gets built up and ultimately goes nowhere. Throughout the story, a character named Grace is referenced more than a few times, but Tucker never seems to want to talk about it. We eventually learn that she’s actually his first kid and is ultimately the child he failed the most. He gets her phone number pretty early on and attempts to call her, resulting in her not wanting anything to do with him. I know this may seem like a spoiler, but this isn’t at the height of the story. This isn’t toward the end and changes Tucker’s life for the rest of the movie. No, it happens and is never referenced again. You could cut out this entire section and miss nothing. Perhaps it means more in the book and has a bigger impact, but it does nothing for the overall narrative here. We already have enough evidence to show that Tucker is something of a screw-up parent and that he’s a washed up musician, but that’s hardly enough reason to keep adding to that. Unless this movie is planning a sequel, which would better suit this particular subplot. As is, it’s unnecessary.
Finally… I don’t remember why Annie was adamant on separating from Tucker. I totally missed why that was. From my memory, they were driving to Lizzie’s place after her boyfriend left her and their baby, and Tucker is there to comfort her, and then Annie simply leaves and the two are never seen together again. What the hell did I miss? While I think it’s inspiring to see her commit to the notion of being a single mom, I wonder why this information was glossed over as much as it was. So much of the ending felt rushed or incomplete and it was rather frustrating, especially since the closing shot is of her and Tucker reuniting.
Overall, this movie was very enjoyable. It’s by no means perfect and the ending would have seriously benefited from a rewrite or two, but the finished product is funny, emotional, charming, and entirely engaging. Also, if that’s really Ethan Hawke singing, dude’s got a set of pipes. While I know this won’t be for everyone, this is a solid rom-com and if you’re looking for a date-movie, or have a soft spot for the genre like I do, then this is something I recommend checking out.
My honest rating for JULIET, NAKED: 4/5
This week’s reviews
Next week’s reviews
- THE LITTLE MERMAID
- THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST
- THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS
- THE BOOKSHOP
- SUPPORT THE GIRLS
- 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY