OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

Juliet, Naked

From the author of About A Boy and High Fidelity

A No. 1 fan, as anyone who’s ever seen Misery knows, is a dangerous thing. But the love Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) has for Tucker Crowe, “one of the most seminal and yet unsung figures of alternative rock”, is mostly just a drag to his long-suffering girlfriend, frustrated museum curator Annie (Rose Byrne). Their little life together in a picturesque seaside village seems depressingly settled until, in a twist of internet fate, Annie connects with the actual Crowe (Ethan Hawke).
Working from Nick Hornby’s novel, director Jesse Peretz (tv’s Girls and GLOW) has made the kind of shaggy, low-key comedy whose modesty is half its charm. O’Dowd’s Duncan is the perfect archetype of an insufferable culture vulture, a film professor who regales students with his elaborate theories (don’t they know The Wire is really just a stand-in for Greek myth, and also Dickens?) and buries Annie in indie-rock esoterica.

Poster for the romantic dilemma Juliet, NakedHawke, fresh off the surreal intensity of his disturbed minister in First Reformed, is all shambolic flannel and regret as a star who walked away at the peak of his ‘90s-demimonde fame and disappeared into legend – or, more accurately, an ex-wife’s garden shed. (There are also some great vintage images of “Crowe”, thanks to Hawke’s well-documented decade as a broodily goateed icon of ’90s cinema).

Much like the book, the plot is a bit of a wisp, and Byrne is almost too luminous for her sad-sack role. But Juliet, Naked still feels winning; the small, sweet grace note on a familiar melody.

– Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

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