I am not a frequent movie-goer, and it is all the fault of a “smart” TV. For the record, I was dismayed when my husband chose this relic in a gloomy looting of a dead relative’s house. “It’s too big.” Indeed, it’s almost as wide as the picture window. And when I heard it had a talking channel changer: “Get it out of the house!”
Well, I have become accustomed to its voice, despite its failure to locate Buffalo Bill (the ‘80s sitcom) on YouTube. That said, we were getting ready to watch Richard Burton’s Hamlet when I learned that Juliet, Naked, based on Nick Hornby’s witty novel, was playing at a local theater! Naturally, we went.
Hornby’s novels have often been turned into comic films: High Fidelity, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down (a dark comedy). And Juliet, Naked works as well as any of them, perhaps because, like A Long Way Down, it has its dark side.
The Hornby-book-to-film usually depends heavily on charming, disheveled male actors: John Cusack (High Fidelity), Hugh Grant (About a Boy), and a well-groomed Pierce Brosnan (A Long Way Down). Juliet, Naked has a witty script and perfect casting, but perhaps it is better, more believable, because the lead actor and actress are equally important and equally grown-up.
And you can’t go wrong with Ethan Hawke as Tucker Crowe, a washed-up middle-aged rock star; Rose Byrne as Annie, a smart, slightly buttoned-up small-town museum curator who has wasted too much time on the boyfriend she doesn’t love; and the irritating boyfriend, Duncan (hilariously played by Chris O’Dowd), an intellectual film professor/blogger who curates a Tucker Crowe fan website (frequented by middle-aged men).
Against all odds, Tucker and Annie begin an email correspondence after she leaves a brutal comment at the blog about a bootleg album, Juliet, Naked, which the fans are praising. (Tucker agrees it is total shit). You can guess the rest—they fall in love—but the details are so droll and whimsical that it is a crisp comedy for adults.
Well, it’s more than a rom-com but I’ll add it to my list of favorites: You’ve Got Mail, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Proposal, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.