Nick Hornby creates the kind of amiable comedic character studies tailor-made for cinematic translation, and this latest film version of a Hornby novel hits one of his favorite themes—namely, men’s relationships with their obsessions interfering with their relationships with other people. In a seaside British town, the 15-year-relationship between Annie (Rose Byrne) and Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) begins to unravel, just as Annie is striking up an email correspondence with Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), the obscure, long-retired singer-songwriter Duncan reveres. Byrne makes the most of a too-rare comedic lead role—she manages to turn a faint hand wave into an entire story about how the kid leaning on her shoulder on a train isn’t actually hers—while Hawke cruises a bit on his physical embodiment of a guy who is all unfulfilled potential. Director Jesse Peretz might never mine the deepest veins of material about looking with regret on taking the easy route, so Juliet often feels fairly disposable. But O’Dowd gets a great defense of caring more passionately for Tucker’s work than Tucker himself does; don’t be surprised if it ultimately becomes a kind of fanboy statement of purpose.
Director: Jesse Peretz
Producer: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman, Patrick Murray and Nick Hornby
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, Megan Dodds, Lily Newmark, Lily Brazier, Azhy Robertson, Ayoola Smart, Enzo Cilenti, Pamela Lyne, Denise Gough and Phil Davis