There are three people in Annie’s (Rose Byrne) relationship: there’s Annie, there’s her boyfriend Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), and then there’s elusive rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), who Duncan has been obsessed with for decades (no matter that Tucker has no idea Duncan exists). “Juliet, Naked,” Jesse Peretz’s big screen adaptation of the 2009 Nick Hornby novel of the same name, follows Annie and Duncan as they come to the end of their stalled-out coupling — a common enough story! — a breakup that takes a major left turn when Annie is suddenly thrust into contact with the sexy Tucker.
For the entirety of Annie and Duncan’s relationship, the majority of Duncan’s care and attention has been directed at Tucker (not Annie), a ’90s-era wannabe rock star who never quite made it. But that hasn’t stopped Duncan from obsessing over him and lovingly collecting every piece of music, merch, and ephemera even remotely related to Tucker’s short-lived career. Duncan even runs a website dedicated to dissecting every note Tucker ever sang or played. You can see how this might get in the way of a normal relationship with the good-natured Annie.
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Eventually, Duncan reveals himself to be a major cad (in addition to an over-the-top fanboy), just as a long-rumored demo version of Tucker’s first album arrives on his doorstep. Annie, understandably upset, gives it a listen, hates it totally, and takes to Duncan’s own website to rip it. Tucker sees it, and while anyone else might balk at her cruel words, Tucker kind of digs them. Finally, someone is being honest with him. A pen pal relationship blooms, and then more, and suddenly, well, there really are three people in Annie’s relationship: Annie, Duncan, and Tucker.
The film, which debuted at Sundance in January, straddles a strange line: it’s both a charming rom-com and a canny sendup of superfans trapped by their own obsessions. Byrne is, of course, adorable. Check out the first trailer for “Juliet, Naked” below. Roadside Attractions will open the film on August 17.