Juliet, Naked combines rock and roll, clever dialogue, and romantic tension in a way that’s reminiscent of High Fidelity. Both films were based on novels written by Nick Hornby. Another point of interest is that director Jesse Peretz commissioned Robyn Hitchcock, Conor Oberst, M. Ward, and Ryan Adams to compose the songs the film’s fictional American alt rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) is said to have recorded in the 1990s. Juliet, Naked also pokes fun at self-important music bloggers who fawn over their heroes and occasionally get things wrong.
At the risk of sounding like Duncan, the British blogger played by the always funny Chris O’Dowd, here are a few observations on Crowe’s music. It was a bit disappointing that his songs, which we’re told marked him as a rising star before he mysteriously disappeared, aren’t featured that much in the film. With the exception of Oberst’s energetic “LAX,” the Hawke-sung originals don’t drive the action as well as gems by The Three O’Clock (“Sorry”) and Squeeze (“Goodbye Girl”). The Three O’Clock and Squeeze aren’t included on the soundtrack album, but Hawke’s heartfelt take on The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” is.
Fortunately, the plot is a fun series of twists and turns that finds Duncan’s girlfriend Annie (Rose Byrne) somehow striking up an online friendship with Crowe after he sees her negative comments about him on Duncan’s blog. Both feel they’ve wasted years of their lives—Crowe on drugs and alcohol and Annie on playing second fiddle to Duncan’s fanboy obsession with Crowe. Eventually, Crowe travels to the UK, and finds Annie even more appealing after meeting her in person. Meanwhile, Duncan has been having an affair with a co-worker, and is flabbergasted to discover Annie romantically involved with the musician he’s idolized for decades.
Congrats all around to Hornby, Peretz, Hawke, O’Dowd, and Byrne for making this tale of getting one’s life back on track so funny and enjoyable.