Chew's Reviews - Juliet, Naked

By Gary Chew | August 29, 2018 |  

Opens Thursday, August 30 |

With all the recent turmoil between our president and Stormy Daniels, a person might be prone to jump to the conclusion that JULIET, NAKED (just opening) is a porno film. No such luck, guys. The title is surely made to get attention yes, but there's not one smidgen of full flesh running time in this quite entertaining, slightly hip, indie film with its wisely-selected cast of Ethan Hawke, Rose Byrne and Chris O'Dowd.

O'Dowd plays Duncan, a rather ditzy, eccentric academic who teaches TV (Yes, television.) at a small college in the UK He lives with his pretty, thirty-something girlfriend, Annie; done to a perky tee by Byrne. Too bad Duncan's primary focus is on a semi-legendary Stateside rock star with a modicum of past so-so hits. That juicy role Hawke got picked to handle. Ethan is known in this script as Tucker Crowe. (The name, alone, still brings a smile to my face.) Tucker is a very long stretch from Pastor Toller, the lead Hawke intensely plays in his other current film called FIRST REFORMED. I dare you to see it. Forgetting FIRST REFORMED isn't in the cards.

Duncan had devoted an entire room of his and Annie's flat to memorabilia of Tucker's sort of brilliant career. Tucker Crowe, in Duncan's estimation, is the top-notch American rocker. Annie … after hearing a promo disc of a song Tucker recorded for an album titled “Juliet, Naked” … isn't so big on over-the-hill Tucker's singing and songwriting prowess, while Duncan is nigh on to worshiping this middle-aged rocker. He even has a website dedicated to Mr. Crowe.

Duncan has a fling with a woman who teaches with him … causing breakage in the Annie/Duncan bond. Annie, in making an email connection with Tucker regarding the song, learns that Tucker and his youngest and fifth child (a boy) are coming to the UK to meet Tucker's adult daughter, Lizzie, who, Tucker finds on arrival, is prego.

Tucker's had a rough row to hoe: four wives and five kids to show for it. Tucker currently lives in the U-S in the garage of one of his former wives. He helps care for the young boy their paring has brought forth. The boy is called Jackson Crowe, and played by the sweet-faced Azhy Robertson. Aylooa Smart appears as Lizzie Crowe. Lizzie laughing is a seldom thing in JULIET, NAKED ... which is funny.

Significant flip-flopping of connections regarding Tucker, Duncan and Annie ensues to bring home the humor and an amazing surprise for Duncan to realize that his former live-in girlfriend might be taking up with the American rocker he so idolizes. O'Dowd is a pure treat in this film … especially when he runs into Annie at the beach, and with Tucker in tow. He has one of the best lines in the movie that refers to Michael Jackson. But I can't type out that sentence here because of all the nice people who regularly read reviews at … right, Dan?

Nick Hornby wrote the same-titled novel. Two married couples did the rest for JULIET, NAKED: Jesse Peretz directed, with his wife Evgenia Peretz and two other people who are in wedlock, Jim Taylor and Tamara Jenkins, doing the script adaptation. JULIET NAKED is a cut above the usual romantic comedy that comes upon us so often in the summertime.

After meeting Jeff Bridges in Sacramento this past week, I've reflected that the vibes out of Hawke, while doing Tucker, are kind of Dude-ish. Uh, but not as Dude-ish as Bridges once and so famously was.
Copyright © 2018 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved. 


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