Review: Juliet, Naked22 August 2018
Juliet, Naked takes a far-fetched plot, spins it until you can just about grasp its plausibility before falling short of convincing you this could happen anywhere other than a movie set. Rose Byrne is superb as Annie, a bored (and growing increasingly more bored) museum curator in a small seaside English village. Her long-term boyfriend Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) teaches cinema and TV studies at the local college, and in his down time manages the Tucker Crowe fandom. The indie-rock-and-roll star of the 90s walked off stage part way through a gig, after recording only one album called Juliet, and was never seen again. The forum Duncan manages postulates conspiracy theories regarding Tucker’s whereabouts, and it becomes clear that the obsession with Tucker often takes precedence in Annie and Duncan’s relationship. Duncan even has a lair/shrine/office in the basement of their house dedicated to Tucker.
Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) is introduced to us as a forty-something washed up indie-rock-and-roll star of the 90s, living in his ex-wife’s garage and caring for his floppy haired son (Azhy Robertson). Tucker strikes up an email conversation with the author of a disparaging review on the Tucker Crowe forum. Of course, this author is Annie, who labelled Tucker “dreary” in a successful attempt to antagonise Duncan. Tucker and Annie exchange emails, discussing their unfulfilled lives and then surprise! Tucker just happens to be coming to London for the birth of his first grandson and would Annie like to meet?
What follows is a fairly predictable falling in love story with the added humour of Duncan’s mixture of disbelief and jealously over his idol “fancying” his now ex-girlfriend. O’Dowd plays his classic loveable type but with a sheen of wanker that makes you feel thoroughly uncomfortable and like the world is spinning off kilter.
Juliet, Naked explores themes of music fandom, obsession and second chances in a light, fresh way. Shot beautiful and set to a fresh score, the film makes for easy viewing. But it can’t distract you from niggling questions while you watch—how can Tucker afford to fly himself and his son to London when he is living in a garage? Why does the mayor of the town play such a prominent role and why is he such a caricature? And Tucker Crowes music doesn’t actually sound that… good?
One to take your grandma to.