Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd and Ethan Hawke star in this charming Nick Hornby comedy. 3/5 stars
Romantic triangles don't come much odder than the one found in this romcom based on the novel by Nick Hornby.
Rose Byrne's Annie, curator of a small museum in an English seaside town, has grown fed up with her long-term partner, film & TV lecturer Duncan (Chris O'Dowd), mainly because he reserves his greatest passion in life for reclusive American musician Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), a mopey singer-songwriter who hasn't been heard from for over two decades.
When the acoustic demo of Tucker's 25 year-old album, Juliet, surfaces unexpectedly, Annie anonymously pens a stinging take-down of the record in response to Duncan's gushing online review - and receives an approving reply from Tucker himself...
Juliet, Naked sees Hornby (of Fever PitchHigh Fidelity and About a Boy fame) again turning his gaze on obsessive male geekiness. This time, however, he's much less forgiving of his fanboy character (Duncan really is ghastly) and it's the woman putting up with the fanboy's nerdy zeal who earns all our sympathy.
Byrne nails Annie's exasperation, and conveys her warmth and intelligence, too. But with Hawke imbuing the story's feckless rocker with a frazzled charm, Hornby and director Jesse Peretz (former bass player for indie band The Lemonheads) do at least give one useless male a pass.
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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