Trapped in a comfortable if loveless relationship, Annie (Rose Byrne) strikes up a long-distance relationship with Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hakwe), a reclusive musician who is the obsession of Duncan (Chris O'Dowd), her boyfriend. However, Tucker arrives in England to see his first grandchild, things get progressively more complicated.
Nick Hornby's work is marked by thirtysomething men with complicated private lives and marked by obsessions with pop culture. It's only when their strictly ordered lives begin to come apart at the seams, often driven by the women in their lives, that things begin to change. 'High Fidelity' followed this structure, but 'Juliet, Naked' does it from the female perspective.
The love triangle of O'Dowd, Hawke and Byrne only comes into focus in the second act of the movie, when the relationship between O'Dowd and Byrne's characters have deteriorated to such a point that sees Hawke enter the scene with a convincing chance to change things. What makes 'Juliet, Naked' fascinating is that not only does it take the female perspective, there's also the examination of lives lived without any kind of direction. The characters in 'Juliet, Naked' seem to drift into their situations, and over the course of the movie does it become clear that there's a different way.
O'Dowd and Byrne together bounce off one another with a comedic alacrity, but Hawke's ability to play lovably rudderless makes for some humourous moments - particularly one where he's essentially held under siege in a hospital bed by his mess of an extended family. Frequent Alexander Payne collaborator Jim Taylor is one of three writers, the other being Evegenia Peretz and Tamara Jenkins, the latter of whom wrote 2007's similarly indie-tinged dramedy 'Savages'. It's this mish-mash of DNA, all of it relatively familiar to one another, that gives 'Juliet, Naked' a familiar and comfortable texture.
There's nothing that you haven't seen before here, and the performances are all low-key and softly spoken, but it has moments where it can really land some touching moments and the warmth of it all is something that stays with you.