You follow your favorite musician on Instagram to stay updated on their travels, style obsessions and favorite type of coffee to start their day with. You’re tuned in to their Twitter rants, YouTube uploads and Spotify singles. You ride the subway with their voice in your ear and you interpret their lyrics as if they are telling you their inner most thoughts and emotions. It almost feels like you know them, right? Celebrities have become so accessible to fans through their outpouring of information on social media, it is not uncommon for bonds to be formed, albeit somewhat one-sided.
The story of a fan obsessed with an obscure rocker was first told through the novel Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. The film adaptation was recently released starring Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd and Ethan Hawke. Hawke portrays Tucker Crowe, a recluse of a rock star, O’Dowd is Duncan, a die hard fan and Byrne is Duncan’s longtime girlfriend Annie. With producer Judd Apatow (This Is 40, Trainwreck) and director Jesse Peretz (Our Idiot Brother, Girls) at the helm of the film, Juliet, Naked offers a unique outlook on relationships and tells the story of embracing second chances in life.
As a former member of the 80’s rock band The Lemonheads, Peretz admits that his past experiences in the music industry definitely aided him in working on this project. “The most exciting thing was the idea that the fan loves the art and projects a fantasy onto the artist,” he says of the relationship between the characters Tucker and Duncan. “At the same time with rock musicians, the romantic image of who they are is often so fraudulent,” he adds. There is a stark contrast between knowing someone in real life and virtually following their lives through social media. The idea that fans like Duncan can spend years obsessing over an artist’s work only to discover that this person is actually a stranger to him is a cringe-worthy sentiment.
Though Duncan’s all-consuming love for Tucker Crowe is the obvious plot of Juliet, Naked, there is a larger, more interpretive story strung throughout the film as well. “There is this idea that people have a midlife opportunity to reverse negative patterns that have trapped them,” Peretz says of the film’s message. “There is the story of [two characters] meeting and pushing each other towards scary impediments to deal with. They had the effect of jolting each other out of complacency and accepting their bummer lives that they were accepting.”
From disrupting the flawed relationship between fan and artist, to inspiring honest relationships and self-reflection, Juliet, Naked offers an emotional look at authentic human interactions, rather than the digital facade that is so often accepted.
Main image: Rose Byrne and Chris O’Dowd in Juliet Naked. Photo credit: Alex Bailey, courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions