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DVD Review: Juliet, Naked

January 8, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Adapted from Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name, Juliet, Naked is a very likeable film that proves there are still many pleasures to be found within the classic romantic comedy formula when it’s done right.

The film focuses on Annie (Rose Byrne), who is living a quiet life in a sleepy seaside town in England, and is starting to feel stuck in her steady but bland relationship with her longtime partner Duncan (Chris O’Dowd).

The problem is that Duncan spends more time obsessing over the career of the obscure American rock star Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), who has long since disappeared from the public eye and hasn’t released any new material in over two decades, than he does focusing on his wife.

When Duncan gets sent a rare acoustic demo tape from Tucker’s most famous work – a breakup album celled Juliet that is hailed as a masterpiece by all the sad middle aged men like him who first heard it in college – and Annie listens to it first, this puts a serious rift in their already fraying relationship. So in response, Annie puts a scathing but honest review of the album on Duncan’s fan site, which catches the attention of Tucker himself, and the two of them form a pen pal friendship that has the potential to blossom into something more, much to Duncan’s shock and disbelief.

While it can be easy to see where Juliet, Naked is ultimately going to end up, the journey that the film takes us on is extremely enjoyable, enlivened by top notch performances. Byrne makes for an incredibly likeable and sympathetic lead here, delivering her best work since The Meddler, and O’Dowd is given moments to add some interesting depth to what could have been a one-note character. Hawke reminds us how charming and likeable he can be in this type of role, playing a character that comes across like an older, more weathered version of the slacker musician that he played in Reality Bites back in 1994.

Director Jesse Peretz does solid work behind the camera, embracing the light, escapist tone of the material without sacrificing the film’s more tender dramatic moments, and the adapted screenplay credited to Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor and Tamara Jenkins does a good job of keeping the characters well rounded and believable. Overall, Juliet, Naked is an incredibly charming film that ranks as one of the better entries into the romantic comedy genre in recent memory, elevated greatly by the chemistry between Byrne and Hawke.

The DVD includes no bonus features, but comes with a digital copy of the film.

Juliet, Naked is an Elevation Pictures release. It’s 105 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: November 13th, 2018

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