Director Jesse Peretz has a likeable romantic comedy with “Juliet, Naked.” The film is smooth and jovial, and while it may not break any new ground, it has a solid cast that keeps the mildly madcap events breezy and entertaining.
Annie (Rose Byrne) is romantically involved with her live-in boyfriend Duncan, a film professor (Chris O’Dowd) who is a passive lover but an obsessive fan of Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) a reclusive musician.
Annie yearns for kids but it quickly becomes clear that Duncan would much rather get dreamy over Crowe’s voice than coo over a newborn infant.
One day at Duncan’s college, he has an affair with a fellow faculty member. Annie has had it.
Out of the blue, Tucker Crowe contacts Annie about a music review and an internet friendship develops. Crowe travels to London to meet Annie.
O’Dowd does a fine job as the self-centered one who just wants to lie in bed and listen to music while Hawke does well as the jaded musician who wishes he could still afford to be a night owl.
Much of the comedy focuses on Crowe finally wanting a quiet life in the midst of all of his exes and kids, while Annie craves excitement. The jokes frequently hinge upon everyone talking at once, miscommunicating and losing patience. While the shouting is not for all tastes, the story is brisk and the plot is well timed, even though one wishes for less formulaic events.
The film is boosted by Hawke who embodies his dysfunction with spirit. What was once a smidge zany becomes serious and there is real melancholy in him which grounds the story.
Though “Juliet, Naked” feels like light fare from Woody Allen with the mopey Duncan slinking around, the strength of the acting keeps one intrigued.
Ultimately you feel the most for Annie. While being constantly surrounded by self absorbed men, she alone seems to have made the only real change, the only step forward.
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