Juliette, Naked

First Hit: A funny and enjoyable story about how people can awaken enough to create a second chance with their life.

The thing I like most about films that feature Ethan Hawke is that often the dialogue is thoughtful. In the Before series of films he and Julie Delpy have such spirited, insightful, and engaged dialogue that one couldn’t help but really care about the characters.

Here as Tucker Crowe, a 1960’s, retired, aged out rock and roll musician, he’s living in a garage just off his ex-wife’s home while helping to raise one of his children Jackson (Azhy Robertson). His most fervent fan is Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) who is a professor at a small English college. He posts and runs a website where the sole focus is Tucker Crowe’s music and career. He regularly blogs about his hero and there are a few hundred people that regularly follow him. He’s such a fan, he’s got an entire room dedicated to Tucker that is filled with posters and other memorabilia.

His long time live-in girlfriend, Annie (Rose Byrne), runs the local historical museum in this small coastal town in England. Her life is, day in and day out, the same old thing. There is a slight resignation in voice when she speaks and in her eyes. It especially comes out in conversations with Duncan. Her sister Ros (Lily Brazier) is gay, works with Annie at the museum, and keeps prompting Annie to expand her closed in life.

Duncan receives a bootlegged copy of the “Juliette, Naked,” an acoustic version of Tucker’s seminal album. The album was created after Tucker’s breakup with a woman he loved. After listening to it, Annie decides to write a critical review of the blog Dunan wrote of the album. Of course, Duncan is deeply hurt as she is criticizing his hero.

She gets a response to her post from Tucker who says she’s exactly right. This turns everything upside down as she begins to have an email relationship with her husband’s hero and he doesn’t know it.

Eventually they meet, and their lives unfold more fully with each other and the world around them. For him, he’s got 5 kids, and Jackson is the only one he knows or has been active with. Events will have him meet most of them.

For Annie, she realizes she wants children, although her and Duncan vowed never to have children, and she wants to expand her life more. This is the crux of the film, with their lives being so small, meeting each other, their lives begin to open to themselves and the world around them.

Byrne is fantastic. Her subtle looks of desperation belied the deeper anguish she was living. Hawke was wonderful and perfect in his role. The dinner conversation he had with Duncan was pointedly perfect. I loved his rendition of the Kinks song Waterloo Sunset. O’Dowd was great as the star stuck follower of Tucker who got seduced by a young fellow teacher at his college. Robertson was super as Tucker’s son. His quizzing of Tucker’s other children was divine. Ayoola Smart was amazing as Tucker’s daughter who was pregnant. Evgenia Peretz and Jim Taylor wrote a very strong script. Jesse Peretz did a wonderful job of directing these characters in a funny, yet smart pointed story.

Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed this film and the meaning behind it—it’s never too late to change.