Freaks, fuck-ups, misfits, outsiders–they’re quite well represented in this week’s film. Some of them more lovable than others.
After years of living with her boyfriend’s obsession with a former musician, a woman in a quiet seaside town starts up a correspondence with the aforementioned rocker.
Though he’s lived with girlfriend Annie for 15 years, Duncan’s true love is has-been rocker Tucker Crowe. Their shared home is filled to the brim with Crowe’s records, posters, and other paraphernalia. When he’s not teaching at the local college, Duncan is debating the finer points of Crowe’s music and moderating the fan site he runs.
After 15 years, Annie is understandably sick of this shit. Having lived in a small coastal town nearly all of her life, she is beginning to regret the decisions she’s made that seem irreversible at this point: taking over her father’s role as director of the local history museum, caring for her sister rather than having children of her own, and staying in her stagnant relationship with Duncan.
When a CD addressed to Duncan mysteriously arrives in the mail, it becomes an unexpected catalyst in Annie’s life. The CD is the legendary Juliet, Naked, a preliminary version of Crowe’s seminal album that has never been released. Annie decides to give the CD a listen, thus depriving Duncan of the opportunity to be the first listener of these Crowe recordings. Of course, Duncan believes the work to be the achievement of a true genius, while Annie finds it incredibly dreary.
Annie speaks her truth in the form of a comment on Duncan’s review, gaining some traction with a few who agree. Among those supporters is the man himself, who emails Annie in response. Annie begins an unlikely correspondence with Crowe, who now lives in the garage behind his ex’s house, where he does very little beyond spend time with his youngest son.
When Duncan meets a new member of the faculty who happens to be a major fan of Tucker Crowe as well, it’s the final nail in the coffin. Duncan has an affair and tells Annie the truth about it, ending their relationship at last.
The breakup coincides nicely with Crowe’s visit to London to meet his first grandchild. Before he can meet up with Annie, Crowe suffers a heart attack and is hospitalized. The two plan to reschedule their day out after a huge family fight involving many of Crowe’s children and mothers of those children.
To spend more time with Annie, Crowe invites himself to visit her hometown. Inevitably, they run into Duncan, who doesn’t believe the man interested in Annie is the real Tucker Crowe. Duncan eventually accepts the truth and expresses his admiration for Crowe over dinner–and Crowe is just not having it. Having given up his music and lifestyle as a pseudo-famous rocker, Crowe steers clear of the spotlight and cringes at the adulation.
With five children on both sides of the pond, Crowe hasn’t always been an attentive father. He feels youngest son Jackson is his last chance to be a good father, as the ship has long sailed with daughter Grace, who he’s never had a relationship with.
As Annie bonds with Crowe and Jackson, she begins to imagine a future much different than the one that seemed inevitable just a few weeks earlier. However, pragmatic Annie knows that Crowe will return to the States to remain close to his son, and makes it clear she’d like a clean break when he leaves.
Will the changes Annie has made in her life stick?
3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
It’s quite apparent this film is based on a Nick Hornby novel (even if you don’t Google it), for better or worse. I do enjoy the maturity and self-awareness of this film; not only does it poke fun of music fanboys and their obsessions, but it also reflects sincerely on the challenge of continuing to grow when you fear making necessary life changes. Annie is a very self-sacrificing character, but she learns to recognize the ways she uses helping others as a way to avoid pursuing the things she wants.
While it’s overall a very sweet film, part of me wanted Annie to be more of a bad bitch. She had so many golden opportunities to be petty and rub her relationship with Crowe in Duncan’s face, which I desperately wanted her to do. I am also basically immune to swearing, but that must be the only reason this film is rated R? Absolutely no one gets naked in this film.
I do like that the character growth feels real; Annie and Crowe both make changes in their lives, but they don’t radically transform. The performances are solid too, though some of the characters could have been filled in more fully. Not a bad way to spend an hour and half at all.