Rose Byrne is our titular “Juliet” so to speak – Annie, who is at a bit of a crossroads in her life. Too far away yet to be talking mid-life crisis but it certainly borders on a mid-mid-life one. Looking after a museum in a small seaside town on the East coast of England, her relationship with Duncan isn’t as smooth sailing as she would like particularly as she is part of a strange love triangle. For Duncan has another big love of his life. Not a dog, a cat or indeed another woman, it’s singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe that is the object of his affections, even going so far to run a fan-site dedicated to said musician who is recent years (20 plus) has disappeared from the music scene. That is, until a long-lost album of acoustic songs resurfaces and brings Tucker back from the wilderness and into their lives.
Juliet, Naked is pretty standard rom-com to be fair, following many of the tropes and clichés one would come to expect from such an endeavour but it does have a lot to say about fandom and obsession, particularly in men and it comes at a time when such subjects are rife with toxicity. One only needs to look at Star Wars – in particular The Last Jedi – for just how obsessive many have become of something that isn’t even theirs to begin with.
Opinions are fine, but the lengths some went to criticise star Kelly Marie Tran are so far past the point of fandom that it’s starting to become increasingly startling. There’s nothing so disgusting or indeed feverish here but that shouldn’t derail its importance: no matter how much you love something or someone to the point of rampant obsession, nothing compares to those in the real world nor indeed whether such a person will ever live up to such fervour.
Directed with vigour if a little un-spectacularly by Jesse Peretz, who has carved out a decent career with work on Girls, Glow and Orange Is The New Black, it’s a whimsical, frothy film when it’s focusing on the romance but it is in those other deeper depths when the film escapes its flimsy shell to explore the more meaningful. Led by Ethan Hawke’s tremendous performance as Crowe (the guy can do no wrong at the moment), the company of actors do decent enough jobs but it’s Hawke who gives the film a shove from decent to good.
While it doesn’t do anything original with the romantic dramedy, Juliet, Naked certainly raises many interesting questions about the toxicity of fandom and celebrity in the 21st century and that’s where the film feels most worthwhile. Anyone hoping for classic Nick Hornby here might leave a little under served, however.