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Juliet, Naked Blu-ray + Digital Review

Juliet, Naked (2018) movie poster Juliet, Naked

Theatrical Release: August 17, 2018 / Running Time: 98 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Jesse Peretz / Writers: Nick Hornby (novel); Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor, Tamara Jenkins (screenplay)

Cast: Rose Byrne (Annie Platt), Ethan Hawke (Tucker Crowe), Chris O'Dowd (Duncan Thomson), Azhy Robertson (Jackson Crowe), Lily Brazier (Ros Platt), Megan Dodds (Carrie), Ayoola Smart (Lizzie Crowe), Enzo Cilenti (Barnesy), Pamela Lyne (Edna), Denise Gough (Gina), Phil Davis (Mayor Terry Barton), Jimmy O. Yang (Elliot - uncredited)

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The title Juliet, Naked may conjure some artsy, risquι European drama that arrives here having made shockwaves and won festival prizes around the world. In fact, though, this British-American movie hails from a 2009 book by Nick Hornby (About A Boy, High Fidelity)
and producer Judd Apatow. It stars two of the less celebrated leads of Apatow's Bridesmaids as well as Ethan Hawke in what is shaping up to be a banner year for him. With 2018 nearly finished, this Sundance premiere also happens to be the best romantic comedy of the year.

At the film's start, our attentions are on Annie Platt (Rose Byrne) and Duncan Thomson (Chris O'Dowd). The strain of this couple's long-term relationship is pretty clear to us. A media studies professor by trade, Duncan's real passion lies in maintaining and moderating a fan community devoted to Tucker Crowe (Hawke), a briefly iconic rock singer-songwriter who suddenly left the spotlight in the 1990s at the height of his fame. Crowe left behind a small body of work that fans like Duncan endlessly and spiritedly dissect as well as a mystery-shrouded personal life for all to contemplate.

One rough day, Annie opens a package addressed to Duncan containing the titular Juliet, Naked, a newly-unearthed collection of stripped-down early recordings of Crowe's most famous album. Scolded by Duncan for listening to it before him, Annie proceeds to anonymously write an unfavorable review, which draws a mixed reaction on the forums but also an approving e-mail from the long-unseen Crowe himself.

In "Juliet, Naked", Annie Platt (Rose Byrne) befriends Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), the former rocker her boyfriend is obsessed with.

This sparks an online pen palship between Annie and her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend's hero. After Duncan confesses to having gotten close to a new colleague, the now-single Annie and Tucker Crowe's emails grow increasingly personal and meaningful. When Tucker flies to England to witness the birth of his first grandchild by the oldest of his scattered illegitimate children, it poses an opportunity for him to meet the woman he's been messaging and discover if there could be something there.

Juliet, Naked has its work cut out for it. E-mail relationships are tough to dramatize in a cinematic way. This inevitably will be measured up to You've Got Mail, a romcom whose late '90s AOL vibe is crucial to its now-nostalgic appeal. Crediting three screenwriters -- Tamara Jenkins (Slums of Beverly Hills), Jim Taylor (Alexander Payne's Sideways, About Schmidt, and Election co-scribe), and Evgenia Peretz (sister of director Jesse Peretz, collaborating again after 2011's underperforming yet likable Our Idiot Brother), Juliet does not pull off this early material with the most grace or ease.

And yet, it does pull it off, because you're still there invested in a love triangle which isn't quite as cut and dry as most romantic comedy dynamics are. In a lesser film, Duncan would be a completely loathsome scoundrel, but in addition to drawing the lion's share of the laughs with his flavorful characterization, O'Dowd makes him a sneakily sympathetic character you cannot hate. In contrast, Tucker Crowe is no white knight galloping to our heroine's rescue. He's a highly flawed father and man whose most attractive quality may be just how little regard he maintains his fringe-celebrated music career. Byrne, meanwhile, is, as always, an appealing presence, even when her character's judgment invites obvious questions. This top-billed role represents a somewhat rare chance for her to be a distinct leading lady and her ease in that role makes you wonder why she's so often asked to play second fiddle to Melissa McCarthy, singing orphans, and CGI rabbits.

Ethan Hawke shows off his comedic chops as immature rocker turned recluse Tucker Crowe.

Critical to the film's considerable charm is the casting of Hawke, who features just as prominently in 1990s pictures that Duncan features in his shrine to the vanished star as he does in present-day flesh. No other famous actor has that '90s young rock singer look that Hawke lent to films like Reality Bites and Before Sunrise and photos from that era give the musician a weight that the forgettable invented music itself does not. It helps that Hawke just kills the part as well, providing an impish, immature mid-40s presence and the very specific blend of incorrigibility and irresistability that the movie needs.
Whether or not the rave reviews Hawke earned for Paul Schrader's First Reformed earlier this year can subsist through the end of the calendar when award votes are cast, these two performances have cemented 2018 as a standout year for him and he has two other lead roles plus a film he wrote and directed still on the way.

It is very easy to imagine the same screenplay falling completely flat with any casting change to the three lead actors. One also has to admire the way that Judd Apatow, who has had as much impact on big screen comedy this century as anyone else, has kind of reinvented himself from big mainstream raunchfests to more human comedies like this and last year's delightful The Big Sick. Whether it's in response to his protιgιs no longer needing his backing, audiences growing tired of his signature brand of improv-driven comedy, or simply him wanting to stretch his creative muscles, the shift seems to suit Apatow well and should extend his career.

Premiering at Sundance, Juliet, Naked received general release at the end of summer, where it was rolled out by Roadside Attractions and failed to find much of an audience despite favorable reviews and seemingly savvy timing. Three months later, it came to Blu-ray and DVD from parent company Lionsgate.

Juliet, Naked Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.39:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extra Not Subtitled or Captioned
Release Date: November 13, 2018
Suggested Retail Price: $21.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as DVD ($19.99 SRP) and on Instant Video


On a technical basis, Juliet, Naked is a pretty standard issue romcom. The crisp 2.39:1 picture and spry 5.1 DTS-HD master audio sound on Lionsgate's Blu-ray are both commendable, nonetheless.

"Making 'Juliet, Naked'" provides a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of a beach sequence. The "Juliet, Naked" Blu-ray menu gives us a taste of Duncan's Tucker Crowe shrine.


A stark contrast from the loaded discs that used to be put together for Apatow productions, the only extra found here is "Making Juliet, Naked" (9:50), a featurette as standard issue as it sounds. While Apatow himself
is a no-show, principal cast and director Peretz share their thoughts on the project. They're complemented by the usual behind-the-scenes footage and glimpses of alternate Chris O'Dowd takes. Gladly, the piece does pay attention to the music created for the film.

"Also from Lionsgate" repeats the disc-opening trailers for The Big Sick, First Reformed, A Simple Favor, Stronger, and Beatriz at Dinner. Juliet, Naked's own trailer is not included.

The menu plays the song "Juliet" while panning around a Tucker Crowe shrine that has been modified to include some clips from the film.

An insert supplying the obligatory digital copy is all that joins the blue disc in the eco-friendly blue keepcase that's topped by a glossy slipcover.

Irish actor Chris O'Dowd provides fine comedic support as Tucker Crowe superfan Duncan, the infuriating boyfriend of Annie Platt (Rose Byrne).


With 2018 winding down, Juliet, Naked still stands as the best romantic comedy of the year that I've seen. While not without some convention, this enjoyable movie succeeds on strong characterization from appealing pros.

Lionsgate's lightweight Blu-ray is as basic as any, but the movie is strong enough to warrant a viewing and lends particularly well to serving as the lighter half of a 2018 Ethan Hawke double feature with First Reformed.

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Related Reviews:
Directed by Jesse Peretz: Our Idiot Brother
Produced by Judd Apatow: The Big Sick • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy • Begin Again • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Rose Byrne: I Give It a Year • The Meddler • Adult Beginners Annie
Ethan Hawke: First Reformed • Maggie's Plan • Boyhood • Before Midnight • The Phenom • Maudie • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Chris O'Dowd: The Sapphires • St. Vincent • Friends with Kids • Gulliver'S Travels
New to Disc: The Last Movie Star • Teen Titans GO! To the Movies • Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot • You Were Never Really Here

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Reviewed December 2, 2018.

Text copyright 2018 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2018 Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions, Los Angeles Media Fund, Rocket Science, Bona Fide, Apatow Company, Turnlet Films.
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