Juliet, Naked - 2018
Director(s): Jesse Peretz
Writer(s): Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor and Tamara Jenkins (screenplay) / Nick Hornby (novel)
Cinematography by: Remi Adefarasin
Editor(s): Sabine Hoffman and Robert Nassau
Cast: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd, Ayoola Smart, Azhy Robertson and Megan Dodds
I should’ve loved this movie. It had a lot going for it. I’ve enjoyed the work the trio of stars have done over the years. Rose Byrne has proven herself in comedies like Bridesmaids, Spy and Neighbors, holding her own and at times stealing scenes from established comedy stars. Chris O’Dowd is underrated and his work in The IT Crowd and Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel proves it. And finally, Ethan Hawke has a resume filled with great performances in the Before Trilogy and has seen a recent resurgence with movies like Predestination and First Reformed. If it seems like I’m spending too much time on background information and not the actual movie, it’s because there is not much to say about this movie since it’s just a rehash of countless of rom-coms that did it better. But say I shall.
The story centers around Annie (Byrne) who’s stuck in a stagnant 15-year relationship with Duncan (O’Dowd). Duncan’s obsession with his favorite Rockstar, Tucker Crowe (Hawke) has completely taken over his life and it is quickly creating a divide between him and Annie. Through some unlikely circumstances, Annie becomes pen pals with Tucker and soon they create a relationship that makes them want to seek each other in real life. Look, this movie is above average thanks to the pulsing chemistry between Byrne and Hawke. Their portrayal felt so real and genuine to the point that you forget they are playing a part and you fully believe they are real human beings. But it adds nothing to the genre.
I liked how they highlighted the destructive nature of taking your hobbies too seriously. How you can lose focus on what’s important and especially lose focus of the people that aren’t inside that hobby. While art, in whatever form you chose to consume it, can give you perspective in your life, it shouldn’t be your life. Also, how they tackle getting older and regretting past decisions was great, especially through Hawke’s character as he sees them embodied in his multiple ex-lovers and the children they conceived.
Juliet, Naked’s biggest downfall is how predictable it is, because we have seen it before. The people that have regrets for not doing things in life, do those things by the end. The people that shouldn’t be in a relationship, aren’t in those relationships by the end. The unlikely couple that shouldn’t work, works by the end. You can see everything coming from a mile away, and even though it’s a charming movie and the leads are wonderful, the comedy isn’t there because of the predictability factor. We have seen these scenarios so we know the awkward situations that are bound to happen, and the laughs don’t ever really land. I just don’t think it was worth the effort to go outside my home and pay AMC money for a movie I could’ve watched on Netflix. Byrne and Hawke’s chemistry is why I love movies.
Juliet, Naked is currently playing in theaters. Wait for it to hit Netflix.
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