Juliet, Naked

The definition of a love triangle
Verdict: 
5/10 - Even Rose Bryne can’t save this predictable romcom.
Release Date: 
Friday, November 2, 2018
Written by: 

Juliet, Naked tells the story of gallery curator Annie Platt, a woman who becomes entangled in a love triangle with her boyfriend and his musical hero - American singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe.

5

Juliet, Naked is a rather provocative title for a film, especially for a romcom.

But be warned, there are no characters named Juliet, nor any nudity in this Jesse Peretz-directed flick.

Inspired by British author Nick Hornby's 2009 novel of the same name, the film follows Annie Platt (Rose Byrne), a curator at a small museum, who lives in the English seaside town of Sandcliff with her long-time boyfriend Duncan Thomson (Chris O'Dowd).

However, Annie is quickly growing tired of her monotonous existence and Duncan's obsession with an American singer-songwriter named Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), who disappeared from the public eye after releasing an album named Juliet in the early 1990s.

When a parcel containing an early version of the record, entitled Juliet, Naked, arrives at her home, Annie listens to it without Duncan's knowledge, with the cultural arts professor spiralling into a rage when he finds out, especially after he learns his girlfriend has posted a negative review of the album on his favourite web forum.

Duncan turns to a work colleague for comfort, but more unexpectedly, the real Tucker reaches out to Annie to praise her comments, with the duo tumbling into a secret chain of You've Got Mail-style email exchanges - where they not only chat about music but pour out their emotions and share their deepest desires and fears.

It turns out reclusive Tucker is hiding out in the garage of his ex-wife's Upstate New York home and supporting himself and his son Jackson (Azhy Robertson), as well as his other children from previous relationships, on his residual cheques.

Accordingly, a twist of fate leads Tucker to travel to London, which ensues a complicated love triangle.

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The plot veers onto the predictable side, yet, Peretz does a nice job of exploring some intriguing themes, like the downsides of celebrity, addiction, the potentially unhealthy sides of fandom and the dysfunctional nature of modern family life.

Byrne brings her signature warmth to the part of Annie and it's impossible not to emphasise with her situation, even though it would have been nice to see her have room in the script to display some of her comic timing, like she did so effortlessly in Bridesmaids.

Every now and then the faintest hint of her gentle Australian accent creeps in, but somehow that just adds even more to her charm.

Fellow Bridesmaids star O'Dowd does his best with a generally selfish character, though he really shines in a scene in which he attempts to confront Tucker in the most bumbling way possible.

And Hawke brings a lot of charisma to his part as an ageing rocker. While romantic sparks don't exactly fly between him and Byrne onscreen, there's something endearing about their connection.

A moment in which Tucker attempts to square off with each of his children is particularly memorable too, as is when he spontaneously performs The Kinks' Waterloo Sunset for a group of pensioners.

Juliet, Naked certainly isn't going to break romcom records like Crazy Rich Asians or Bridget Jones's Baby, but it does make for some easy rainy day viewing.

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