Not that Ethan Hawke ever truly had a prolonged McConaughey-like slump, but the so-called “Hawke-aissance" he’s enjoying in 2018 with First Reformed and a few other projects still to come continues with this charming adaptation of Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked.
Hawke plays Tucker Crowe, a celebrated U.S. musician who had an underground hit in the early ‘90s with the album Juliet, only to disappear and inspire a cult of obsessives led by Duncan (a gleefully pretentious Chris O’Dowd).
While the fandom and songs — ably performed by Hawke and a band, but written by Ryan Adams, Robyn Hitchcock, Conor Oberst and M. Ward — are entertaining, the story belongs to Duncan’s girlfriend Annie (Rose Byrne), whose scathing online review of the titular newly-unearthed demos pulls Tucker out of hiding.
Her memorable meet-cute and evolving relationship with Tucker, the first semi-healthy one with a member of the opposite sex either has had in years, is one of the more mature and honest looks at romance in recent cinema and one worth savoring.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Starts Aug. 31 at the Fine Arts Theatre
(Photo: Roadside Attractions)