Review: Juliet, Naked

Rose Bryne in Juliet, Naked

Juliet, Naked is a delightful film. I hesitate to to label it a romcom, because it turns all the romcom tropes upside down. But it is a love story. Perhaps it’s more correctly a love story about a woman who learns to love who she is and honor herself. There are spoilers ahead, but not many you can’t see in the trailer.

The stars of Juliet, Naked are so charming and perfect they make the film shine.

The film starts with Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) expounding in a video on his blog dedicated to his hero, singer Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). Tucker Crowe disappeared some 20+ years ago. His album “Juliet” and the rumored mysteries of his life are examined minutely by Duncan and the followers of his blog. Duncan lives the word stan at a cellular level.

Duncan and Annie Platt (Rose Byrne) have been together for 15 years. Annie is so done with all Duncan’s blather about Tucker Crowe. They agreed not to have children – a decision currently haunting Annie.

Someone sends Duncan the acoustic demo of the “Juliet” album. It’s called “Juliet, Naked.” Duncan goes crazy about it – something new for his blog. Annie secretly writes a bad review and posts it.

Annie’s review gets a response from Tucker Crowe himself. He agrees with her. It stunk. They start emailing. She’s in England. He’s in the U.S.

She doesn’t tell Duncan she’s talking to his hero.

Duncan finds someone who agrees with his enthusiasm about the demo album and cheats on Annie. Annie throws him out. Meanwhile she and Tucker continue their long, revealing conversations via email.

The email correspondence between Tucker and Annie turns out to be therapeutic for them both. They examine their lives and what they are doing with themselves. They discuss regrets and wasted time.

Tucker, we learn, has children. Five from four different mothers (two are twins). We see a bit of his life in America when his daughter Lizzy (Ayoola Smart) comes from London to visit him. She wants to meet her younger half-brother Jackson (Azhy Robertson). Jackson is the one child of Tucker’s he’s actually raising. She’s searching for all her half-siblings.

Lizzy’s having a baby. Tucker goes to London for the birth of Lizzy’s baby. He wants to meet Annie. On the way, he has a heart attack. Boom, he’s down.

He calls Annie to explain why he missed their date. Lizzy calls all five of his kids and all his exes to come to his hospital bed. Four show up. Nina Sosanya plays Lizzy’s mom! She’s in one scene and has maybe two lines. Still.

When Annie and Tucker finally meet, it’s in the hospital with his children and exes standing around giving him a hard time because he isn’t dead and they came all that way.

So Tucker and Annie finally meet in person. He stays at her place for a while as he recovers from his heart attack. His reaction to finding Duncan’s shrine to him in the basement is very different from his son Jackson’s reaction. Annie is simply embarrassed by it.

Ethan Hawke, Rose Byrne, and Chris O'Dowd in Juliet, Naked
When Duncan met Tucker, Duncan didn’t believe Tucker was who he said he was.

Duncan was hilarious when he met his hero. His hero wasn’t so amused by Duncan. Especially since Duncan considered himself the world expert on Tucker Crowe, but none of what he thought he knew was correct. Being the previously admired expert on all things Tucker Crowe was not a position Duncan was eager to give up.

Rose Byrne and Azhy Robertson in Juliet, Naked
Annie wanted to be a mom, but she didn’t try to become a mother to Tucker’s ready-made family of kids.

Annie was busy developing a sense of who she was, what she wanted. She wanted kids. She wanted to leave her small town. Her sister Ros (Lily Brazier), a rather hilarious lesbian dating disaster, was finally grown up enough to do without her.

Tucker had to take Jackson and return to America.

Time passes and the perfect couple Annie and Tucker are not together. The film ends on a hopeful note, but nothing is certain in the romance department. In the Annie department, she’s finally figured out who she is and she’s eager about the future and about living her life to the fullest. That was enough of a win for me.

I found the cast and the offbeat nature of the story delightful and charming. Juliet, Naked is an excellent feel-good movie. On a night when you need the easy stuff, this is a great pick. I watched it on Prime Video, but it’s available from a couple of other streamers as well.

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