Juliet, Naked (2018) - UK / USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
What I particularly enjoyed about the Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke romantic comedy is how it all plays out in such a likeable and natural manner where the first half feels like a Chris O’Dowd’s pitfall of modern romance and the 2nd half going the route of “Beside Sunrise”. There is a lot of admire about director Jesse Peretz’s film as Rose Byrne takes centerstage as we see her goes about the motions, going along with the cliches of life, love and staying well within the comfort zone of a beautiful yet small British seaside town. It is not until, Ethan Hawke as the aging and former singer that Byrne’s former boyfriend (played to deadpan perfection by O’Dowd) happens to adore and idolise over, comes into the picture that the film goes a notch better than genre conventions.
Rose Byrne continues her run of good performances as the small town girl afraid to make a big move or take any significant risk in life. As a result she was stuck in a dead end relationship with O’Dowd for 15 years, until he eventually cheated on her. What makes the film really clicks is the on-screen chemistry between Hawke and Byrne characters. Hawke like his “Before Sunrise” mode is an expert in these type of movies and situations as he ease his way into Byrne’s uninspiring life and breathe life into it in the process. O’Dowd on the other hand goes against his good and nice guy image by playing the cheating boyfriend and does a wonderful job at it.
All in all, “Juliet, Naked” is unlikely to make a splash commercially, but it is well worth a look when it appears in the comfort of home cinema. It’s heart warming and even enjoyable to watch as we see characters that we can relate to on-screen. It is a small film, but it allows Byrne, Hawke and O’Dowd to form fully arc characters in the process. A film for the romantics out there.
I rated it 7.5/10