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Ethan Hawke, Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd

“JULIET, NAKED” My rating: B+

105 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The drolly amusing “Juliet, Naked,” isn’t my favorite film based on work by Nick Hornby (that would be the sublime “Brooklyn”) but it’s right up there with “About a Boy” and “High Fidelity.”

And like the latter, it’s a comedy/drama that pivots on a guy obsessed with rock music.

Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) teaches pop culture at a small British community college. He’s the kind of geeky prof who, for a course on HBO’s
“The Wire,” supplies his students with a glossary of American inner city words and phrases. You can imagine him leading serious  classroom discussions about the etymological roots of “mofo” and “ho.”

His biggest crush, though, is on a marginal American singer/songwriter named Tucker Crowe whose LP “Juliet”  holds the 43rd place on at least one list of great heartbreak albums.

Duncan loves “Juliet” and scarfs down every bit of information he can find about Tucker Crowe, who vanished a quarter century ago.  Duncan is also the proprietor of a Tucker Crowe web site where he trades theories with other Crowe disciples and writes rambling blogs about how Tucker is the J.D. Salinger of alt rock.

In short, Duncan is perfectly ridiculous. (Not that we can’t relate. Most of us have our little hard-to-explain musical fixations: Richard Thompson. Eric Andersen. The Beau Brummels.)

Anyway, Duncan’s live-in girlfriend Annie (Rose Byrne) has just about had it with the whole Tucker Crowe thing.  When an early stripped-down demo recording of the songs on “Juliet”starts circulating on the Internet, Annie writes a withering (and anonymous) review of what is being called “Juliet, Naked.”

(more…)

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