Starring Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd,
In 2011 Brother and sister duo Jesse and Evgenia Peretz made a film called Our Idiot Brother and it was very bad. They return with yet another quirky comedy, but this time, the script and direction are genuinely entertaining. Evgenia’s script examines the different aspects, responsibilities, and regrets of middle-age dating. She also explores idol obsession and parenthood, unusual subjects for a romantic comedy film. Juliet, Naked’s strongest element is the ability to sidestep clichés, while still managing to tease the viewer with them. All three of the performances are fresh takes on characters we think we know, but they continuously surprise the audience. Regret and the fear of regret also play a considerable factor, which could be considered quite provocative for a film that seems to be about love.
Annie (Byrne) is the type of woman that plays things safe. For starters, she assumes her fathers’ position at the local museum when he got ill to work. Now she is stuck in the little seaside town of Sandcliff, in a relationship with Duncan (O’Dowd) who doesn’t want kids and is more obsessed with some musician than her. In fact, Tucker Crowe (Hawke) the mysterious American rock singer is all Duncan thinks about, even running a website devoted to the singer who vanished decades ago. When Annie writes a negative review, out of spite, on Duncan’s precious forum, she is shocked by a reply from the missing musician. The two begin an electronic pen pal relationship that is surprising and confusing to them both.
Juliet, Naked doesn’t hang on big climactic moments or dramatic scenes, it’s a collection of realistic moments within a screenplay that’s slightly eccentric at times but desperate to cover new ground.
The script works very diligently against the stories initial stupidity. The performances help win the audience over, even with O’Dowd who is obsessive, ridiculous and near caricature. Byrne and O’Dowd, former Bridesmaids co-stars balance the comedy with performances that never venture into slapstick but stay routinely on par with British humor. It’s Ethan Hawke who is the odd man out in his role, perfectly cast as an American dreamer who made too many wrong choices and didn’t grow up until it was nearly too late. Byrne and Hawke have a natural chemistry, but after the performances Hawke has pulled off recently, I don’t think there is anything he can’t do.
There are countless scenes where any normal American romantic comedy would simply step into the predictable. For instance, the scene where Duncan meets his idol doesn’t go at all the way you would expect. Juliet, Naked doesn’t hang on big climactic moments or dramatic scenes, it’s a collection of realistic moments within a screenplay that’s slightly eccentric at times but desperate to cover new ground. Juliet, Naked is by two filmmakers who seek the unusual. It might attract audiences looking for the familiar and neat ending, but you won’t find that here.
Percolates with originality, manifests enduring chemistry among the actors and some genuine laughter.