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  Juliet, Naked Loving Your Work
Year: 2018
Director: Jesse Peretz
Stars: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O'Dowd, Azhy Robertson, Lily Brazier, Megan Dodds, Ayoola Smart, Enzo Cilenti, Pamela Lyne, Denise Gough, Phil Davis, Alex Clatworthy, Lily Newmark, Eleanor Matsuura, Nina Sosanya, Matt King, Georgina Bevan
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) may not be the most famous singer-songwriter around, but that is thanks to him consciously dropping off the radar for twenty-five years and counting, leaving the world with one album, titled Juliet, to remember him by. Not that a massive amount of people do, it is more a cult of obsessives who can reel off a selection of facts about him and his work, which they consider a masterpiece. Annie Platt (Rose Byrne) knows this only too well, for she is the romantic partner of one of those fans, Duncan Thomson (Chris O'Dowd), who sometimes she suspects thinks more of Crowe than he does of the woman he is meant to be in love with...

Juliet, Naked (a film where nobody gets naked, it should be pointed out) was drawn from the novel by Nick Hornby, and even if you were not aware of this you might be able to tell within about five minutes, especially if you appreciated the film of his book High Fidelity, which this bore understandable similarities to. Except this was telling the story of fandom from the perspective of the other person in the relationship, in this case the girlfriend of one of Hornby's signature narrowly focused blokes. Now, women can be fans too, but he was not so interested in their experiences, so here Annie was a longsuffering second best to the music and mystique of Crowe.

Now she is nearing middle age, she is beginning to wonder if she has made the right decisions, specifically about whether she should have had kids or not. Duncan convinced her it was a bad idea, using that old pretentious depressive reason that nobody should bring a child into this awful world, shutting down her intuition that it would be an act of optimism to bring up a son or daughter, rather than consigning any offspring to a life of misery. And besides, as with many a Hornby male, Duncan is just a big kid at heart, indulging himself in his passions of music and television - the latter because he is a media studies lecturer (his speciality appears to be The Wire), and the former for his website.

This site is devoted to Crowe, so naturally one day he is sent a bootleg named Juliet, Naked, a collection of acoustic versions of the album he and his online pals are so devoted to, and he is blown away, penning a gushing review of them online. But Annie heard the CD first, and she wasn't impressed, thinking the songs "dreary", so says so under an assumed name on the message board, which leads her to be contacted by Tucker himself, who likes what she said and they strike up a friendly correspondence. This is all going on entirely unbeknownst to Duncan, but soon his actions lead his girlfriend to seek out Tucker over him, and this is where Hawke finally showed up to act in the storyline, after seeming as if he would not actually appear when he was on the other side of the Atlantic.

There commences a will they-won't they friendship between Annie and Tucker as the drama considers the point of being a fan and deciding that while it's all very well enjoying the culture, it's extremely important to accept that the people who made that culture are just people, with all the benefits and flaws that come in those muddled packages. Duncan has an interesting speech late on where he points out that the talented among us shouldn't take their abilities for granted, because that means leaving it to those like Duncan to make that talent important, so the whole make the best of what you have message was able to extend beyond Tucker's tale and express itself in the love triangle, where Duncan assuredly has failed to make the best of what he had. He is a dolt, and O'Dowd plays him that way, but he's not two-dimensional, and neither are Annie and Tucker, which serves what could have been utterly unbelievable with the ring of truth, since there is genuine emotion and rumination here. That it leaves this a little unresolved was part of that truth too. Music by Nathan Larson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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