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· Reading 5 min.
HBO brings us Juliet, Naked (2018), a film that deals with love and drama going beyond the typical Hollywood romantic comedies.
Juliet, Naked is based on the novel “Juliet, Naked” (2009) by Nick Hornby, a British writer who has already achieved cult status. The film is produced by Judd Apatow, who was in charge of the production of HBO’s Girls and The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), a film he also directed. Juliet, Naked is directed by Jesse Peretz with leading performances by Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, and Chris O'Dowd.
Peretz takes Honbry's plot and formats it to fit the “Hollywood romantic comedy” formula while offering so much more. Juliet, Naked gracefully and unpretentiously departs from the standard rom-com genre and presents us with a story that revolves around aging, relationships, and new life opportunities. Like all good films, Juliet, Naked raises questions and leaves them in the hands of its characters so that we, its viewers, can experience them through them.
What did we think we would be as adults? What dreams did we have? How much did love end up being what we thought it was? How can success be measured? Is it true that we can start over?
These questions and more are subtly presented in Juliet, Naked.
The story begins with a couple (in their forties) living in Sandcliff, a small maritime town in England. Annie (Rose Byrne) works as a curator in a small museum and feels that her relationship with her boyfriend Duncan (Chris O'Dowd) is at an impasse. Duncan is a college film and TV professor, an expert in the series The Wire, and, above all, a huge fan of Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), a 90’s rock star, who after releasing a single album titled “Juliet”, disappeared without a trace. Recently, Annie realized that Duncan is more concerned with keeping the memory of his mysterious idol in his blog; feeling not only her own failure the failure of a life that has not fulfilled her expectations.
But everything will change when a "naked" version of “Juliet” arrives home comprising of demos with no arrangements. The album was intended for Duncan, yet Annie listens to it and proceeds to post a rude review of it online. Soon after, she receives an email from the enigmatic Tucker Crowe.
This sparks an intense virtual friendship between Annie and Crowe. Crowe, who lives in the US, ends up in England for family reasons and finally meets Duncan and Annie; opening up the possibilities of a romance between Crowe and Annie.
Nick Hornby is a respected British author who knows how to tell stories that focus on real struggles yet gives charm and grace to his characters; much of them with a deep love for music. Before turning to scriptwriting, Hornby was a music critic for The New Yorker magazine as music is very important in his life. One of his most famous works is “High Fidelity,”, a novel published in 1995 that stars a record store owner. In 2000, High Fidelity was adapted to film by Stephen Frears, with John Cusack in the leading role. In February 2020, it was adapted into a television series starring Zoë Kravitz.
Hornby’s novels “About a Boy” (2002), with Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, and Toni Collette, and “A Long Way Down”(2014) with Pierce Brosnan, Imogen Poots and Toni Collette have also been adapted to films. Hornby’s “Teaching of Life” was also later adapted to the successful film An Education (2009), directed by Lone Scherfig which earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and earned Carey Mulligan Best Actress at the BAFTA ceremony.
Jesse Peretz was the bassist and founding member of the American band The Lemonheads. Peretz left the band and shifted to photography and directing commercials, band videos and short films which then led to film and television. His work includes HBO's Girls (2012-2017), conceived by leading actress Lena Dunham, in which he directs with humor when dealing with the dramatic and existential situations affecting the female-led ensemble.
Juliet, Naked premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018; garnering rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. The film carries a discreet charm and elegant simplicity that makes it an intelligent and charming comedy.
Juliet, Naked - available now on HBO Mundi.
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