It’s the last weekend of August, and we’ve reached the annual lull of the summer movie season. Is this film sweet enough to be a reason to head out to the cinema one last time? Probably, but barely.
Synopsis: Annie is stuck in a long-term relationship with Duncan – an obsessive fan of obscure rocker Tucker Crowe. When the acoustic demo of Tucker’s hit record from 25 years ago surfaces, its release leads to a life-changing encounter with the elusive rocker himself. Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, JULIET, NAKED is a comic account of life’s second chances. (Elevation Pictures)
Starring: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd
Writers: Evgenia Peretz and Jim Taylor, and Tamara Jenkins
Director: Jesse Peretz
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 105mins
Juliet, Naked is one of the few smaller films coming out this labor day weekend that isn’t expected to make as much as some of the holdovers from previous weeks at the box office. This was a film that definitely had high hopes, having quite the cast and a story that is original enough to cater to audiences looking for a way to end their summer with a bang. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stand out among the bland crowd that is the current box office, but at the same time, it definitely isn’t something that’ll give you full on regret.
The screenplay here is one of its major flaws. Although it does have some unique ideas that were presented in a unique way, it just doesn’t execute these ideas in a way that was as unique as the story itself. Considering the script is adapted from the author of such films as High Fidelity, expectations were understandably high – but all that the audience is left with is a desire for something greater and more meaningful. The direction isn’t super memorable, and the fact that this is paired with a script that is equally mediocre doesn’t exactly lead to the most captivating of results.
What can be said though, is the way the actors at hand here portray these characters definitely adds some elements that make it enough of a draw. Chris O’Dowd’s Duncan is funny enough as the obsessive husband in disbelief that his marriage is falling apart due to Crowe (Hawke), who is, in fact, his idol. However, at points, the obsession breaks relatability and becomes almost obnoxious. Rose Byrne’s Annie is endlessly likable, and is one of the main draws of the film. Hawke is good enough as Crowe, but besides the development of his character created from Duncan’s obsession, we don’t learn nearly enough about the type of person he is – only the fact that his music is supposed to be incredible. This actually creates what is quite an uninteresting first half, due to the fact that we see the emails between Annie and Tucker but don’t know nearly enough about Tucker’s personality to believe this relationship.
Juliet, Naked is definitely ‘cute’, if anything. It’s a film that has a premise that’s interesting and relatable enough to pay attention, and it’s characters are structured decently enough for it to be a film that’ll keep your interest, if anything. Unfortunately, the way the screenplay handles both the pacing and the progression of the story simply makes for a film that is wholly forgettable. If you’re a fan of the cast, that should be enough of a reason to check it out but honestly, if you want a good romantic comedy to see this Labor Day weekend, Juliet, Naked shouldn’t be an absolute priority.