JULIET, NAKED – Review by Susan Granger

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Following in her late father’s footsteps, Annie (Rose Byrne) manages a municipal history museum in Sandcliff, a British seaside town, while struggling to maintain her long-term relationship with Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), who is obsessed with ‘90s alternative-pop rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), now vanished into obscurity.

When an unreleased Tucker Crowe demo ‘Juliet, Naked’ arrives in the mail, Duncan is ecstatic. Sensible Annie is far more critical of the motley selection of outtakes, expressing her distaste in an acerbic comment on Duncan’s website.

To her surprise, Annie receives a personal reply from the reclusive musician himself, thanking her for disliking the bootleg CD as much as he does.

After a trans-Atlantic e-mail flirtation, Tucker suddenly appears in Annie’s life, toting his adorable son Jackson (Azhy Robertson). The timing coincides with Duncan’s blossoming affair with a colleague named Gina (Denise Gough).

Based on Nick Hornby’s 2009 novel, it’s predictably adapted by Evgenia Peretz, Tamara Jenkins and Jim Taylor and directed by Evgenia’s brother, Jesse Peretz, the founding bass player with the 1980s American indie band Lemonheads, who went on to helm TV’s “Nurse Jackie,” among other series.

Ethan Hawke says, “For an actor, I’m not a bad singer.” But he’s not very good either. Genial, light-hearted faking doesn’t always resonate, even under the supervision of Nathan Larson, who scored and produced the music, featuring Robyn Hitchcock and Ryan Adams, among others.

On the other hand, Rose Byrne’s ditsy comic timing is remarkable.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Juliet, Naked” is a superficially satirical, soulful 6. Nobody’s naked and Juliet’s non-existent in this romantic comedy about life’s second chances.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.