Song of the Day #3,717: ‘Waterloo Sunset’ – Ethan Hawke

English author Nick Hornby’s writing has proved particularly film-worthy. Six of his books have been made into movies, including one (Fever Pitch) that was made into two different movies.

Juliet, Naked, based on Hornby’s 2009 novel, is the latest film adaptation and for my money the best yet. A romantic comedy dealing — like so many Hornby works — with popular music and obsessive fandom, this is another strong entry in what’s turning into the year of the rom-com.

Rose Byrne stars as Annie, a resigned museum curator who lives with her professor boyfriend Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), a man more invested in his pop culture obsessions than his relationship. Principal among those obsessions is singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), who disappeared two decades earlier after releasing a masterpiece of a break-up album called Juliet.

Spurred by the leak of an unplugged version of the album (the titular Juliet, Naked), Annie inadvertently falls into a long-distance flirtation with the actual Tucker Crowe, who has given up music for fatherhood.

Byrne is a wonderful actress, equally adept at comedy and drama, and it’s nice to see her in a lead role. O’Dowd, usually the most likable guy in any movie, has fun playing a pathetic cad here. And Hawke, of course, is a national treasure with one of the most fascinating filmographies in the business, though one surprisingly lean on romantic comedies.

Hornby relishes taking the piss out of Duncan, a fanboy not unlike Hornby himself, or the Hornby-inspired main character of High Fidelity. Not unlike me, either, I’ll admit. Duncan’s ecstatic early reaction to Juliet, Naked reminds me of some of my own raves.

Though Duncan is mostly portrayed as a loser, he makes some heartfelt and thought-provoking points during one encounter with Crowe, exploring the role of art apart from the artist.

That scene, as well as one in which Crowe tentatively performs in front of a crowd for the first time in years, lend some gravity and depth to an otherwise lightweight tale.

Today’s SOTD is a more polished version of that Tucker Crowe performance, not of his own song but The Kinks’ classic ‘Waterloo Sunset.’

The film’s soundtrack allows Ethan Hawke to channel his inner rock star on both produced and unplugged versions of his character’s music. I wish the movie had found a little more room for some of those compositions (which were written by indie faves Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst and others).

Dirty old river
Must you keep rolling
Rolling into the night?
People so busy
Makes me feel dizzy
Taxi light shines so bright
But I don’t need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise

Every day I look at the world from my window
Chilly, chilly, it’s evening time
Waterloo sunset’s fine

Terry meets Julie
Waterloo Station
Every Friday night
But I am so lazy
Don’t want to wander
I stay at home at night
But I don’t feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise

Every day I look at the world from my window
Chilly, chilly, it’s evening time
Waterloo sunset’s fine

Millions of people
Swarming like flies round
Waterloo underground
Terry and Julie
Cross over the river
Where they feel safe and sound
But they don’t need no friends
As long as they gaze on Waterloo sunset
They are in paradise

Waterloo sunset’s fine
Waterloo sunset’s fine
Waterloo sunset’s fine

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,717: ‘Waterloo Sunset’ – Ethan Hawke

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and, while I’m stopping short of crowning Ethan Hawke a “national treasure,” I did like him in this film.

  2. Peg Clifton says:

    We plan to see it this weekend

  3. Amy says:

    I loved seeing a replica of my brother on screen, even if his character was having the piss taken out of him. 😀. After the hospital scene, Duncan’s lecture on The Wire had me laughing hardest, though the scene you describe above is, in many ways, the heart of the film, and O’Dowd, national treasure that he is, knocks it out of the ballpark (a nice allusion to the Americanized adaptation of FeverPitch ;). This is yet another of the fine indies this year that I wasn’t able to predict from the moment I sat down. Not only the ending, but, more importantly, the characters’ ebbs and flows, flaws and moments of triumph. These are always my favorite types of films, so I’m appreciative of a year with several of them. Sitting through the credits, I was surprised by how many more songs were recorded than I had any recollection of hearing during the film. Not sure I need to add Ethan Hawke songs to my already substantial music library, but I might have to stream a couple of them just out of curiosity.

  4. Maddie says:

    Definitely couldn’t help but think of you and this blog while I was watching this movie. I love Nick Hornby’s vibe and sensibility so much, and I think every performance in this movie did a great job of maintaining exactly what makes his stories and characters so comfortable, funny and joyful. I’m not sure I would have needed more original music in the film itself, it struck the right balance for me. I have gems like Hearts Beat Loud to fulfill my all original soundtrack needs for this year. 🙂

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