Juliet, Naked

Rose Byrne bares her soul as a groupie’s girlfriend in Jesse Peretz’ alt-rock drama


Juliet, Naked ★★

After more than three decades appearing in films, Ethan Hawke’s not quite a household name. Still, you may remember him as one of Robin Williams’ more sensitive students in Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society (1989), a Gen X slacker in Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites (1994) or the philosophizing backpacker-turned-novelist he portrayed throughout Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013). At 47, Hawke’s boyishly handsome face has become creased with the deeply etched lines of a smoker—and the raspy voice to match. Both served him well when he starred as a hard-drinking pastor in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed this May. Now, in Jesse Peretz’s Juliet, Naked, Hawke knowingly unpacks much of his past baggage playing Tucker Crowe, an American alt-rocker who disappeared into obscurity while a small but dedicated fan base spent the next decade-and-a-half obsessing over rumors of his whereabouts. Chief among these middle-aged groupies is Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), a British professor who lectures on TV’s The Wire by day, before heading home to his true love: maintaining his Crowe-enshrining blog. Unsurprisingly, Annie (Rose Byrne)—Duncan’s long-neglected girlfriend—is tired of playing second fiddle to a ghost—until she unexpectedly falls into an epistolary affair with one of indie-music’s forgotten footnotes. Sure, it’s contrived, but once all the players finally share the stage, the results are both hilarious and heartfelt—as any good adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel should be. (At Boston Common, Coolidge Corner, Kendall Square, Seaport and in the suburbs.)

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