Juliet, Naked review: A film far too preoccupied with its flat jokes to actually get to the heart of its abandonment issues

Nick Hornby is the master of the manchild and Duncan, the one from the 2009 novel this film is based on, is one of his. He’s in thrall to a similarly adolescent idol, a mopey indie star called Tucker Crowe, who became a recluse following the release of his only album ‘Juliet’.

Stuck in the middle is long-suffering girlfriend Annie, who suffers the sharp end of one of Duncan’s mood swings when she doesn’t like a rare demo of his favourite album called ‘Juliet, Naked’. So Annie writes a savage review on Duncan’s fansite, only to receive an email from Tucker Crowe himself and an illicit epistolary affair begins.

Chris O’Dowd is probably too likeable to play the villainous Duncan, but the only chuckles come from the ranty conspiracy videos he posts on his website, smartly employed here to bookend the film and make his online exploits more cinematic. Rose Byrne, while possessing a similar natural charm, is rendered daft by her over-ripe Estuary accent. And Ethan Hawke, playing the remorseful rocker, does a fine job of being Ethan Hawke.

Though there have been many narrative improvements – notably the decision to angle it from Annie’s perspective – this is a dark story at its core, featuring a bunch of commitment-phobes terrified of abandonment. But the twee seaside setting, rom-com cast and oddball peripheral characters, such as the totally misjudged pissed town mayor, throw the tone off entirely.

It’s a Nick Hornby story directed as if it’s a Richard Curtis one and the result is a film that’s trapped in an adolescence of its own, waiting to grow up.

Source : CityA.M.

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