Review: Juliet, Naked
Although Ethan Hawke has received some well-deserved praise for his leading role in First Reformed, it’s his semi-supporting role in the already forgotten Juliet, Naked that intrigues me most. How this movie has already been forgotten I’m not too sure, I feel like it was only yesterday that it was just being announced.
Maybe it’s just the brutal, inescapable fact that it is a forgettable piece of cinema, similar to that of The Re-write and pretty much anything else Hugh Grant has done for the past fifteen years or so. A semi-romantic dramadey set in a little beach town of England, Juliet, Naked follows the elusive nature of an American musician, Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), and the drama that ensues when welcomed by Annie (Rose Byrne), the girlfriend of Crowe-enthusiast Duncan (Chris O’Dowd).
With a cast like that, not much can go wrong. But not much goes right either, and Juliet, Naked creates a somewhat dull palette that never seems to go away. Although it managed to avoid more obvious tropes of the genre, there’s still a sense that Juliet, Naked is lacking overall. The love triangle of the trio seems rather fresh at the beginning but becomes tiresome far before the end of the movie.
What kept me going was the performances of not just Hawke and Byrne, but O’Dowd also. O’Dowd is a man of many talents, and it seemed like he was set to crop up in mediocre movies like Bridesmaids, Molly’s Game and Cloverfield Paradox for the rest of his career. While not much of a “lucky break”, it does showcase a change from even more mundane movies that leave even less of a lasting impression.
O’Dowd’s obsession with Tucker Crowe and the chemistry on-screen with Ethan Hawke is a very strong situation. Although we only see them on screen together a handful of times, their impact is lasting and Byrne is there to fill in the gaps; gaps which are considerably large from time to time. While focusing on the relationship of Duncan and Annie, the film suddenly switches State-side to introduce the in-hiding Crowe. The pacing feels off at times, which is a genuine shame given the general likeability of the plot.
If anything, Juliet, Naked should receive some considerable praise for being a generally charming and endearing movie from start to finish. Though it is essentially a filler piece of cinema with little interesting or striking about its direction, its performances are enough to bring us through a delightfully short hour and a half.