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Wicker Park
2004 - PG-13 - 115 Mins.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Producer: Marcus Viscidi
Written By: Brandon Boyce
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Matthew Lillard, Rose Byrne, Diane Kruger
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site: www.mgm.com/wickerpark/
   

Stalker? Takes one to know one!
A stylish-looking drama, ‘Wicker Park’ is a terrible waste of potential with laughable performances that already weaken an unnecessarily complicated plot. Josh Hartnett stars as Matthew, a photographer who seems to have an ideal life. He works for a major Chicago investment firm and is practically engaged to his boss’s sister. But a couple years ago, he lost the love of his life, Lisa (Diane Kruger), when she apparently disappeared after he asked her to move in with him. Assuming that she no longer loved him (he couldn’t leave messages on her answering machine, I guess), he went on to pursue a new life in New York.

But when Matthew moves back to Chicago, he spots Lisa in a restaurant and starts to hunt her down even when he’s supposed to be leaving on a business trip to China. (We immediately see how little he values his future fiancee and brother-in-law!) Directed with flair by Paul McGuigan (‘The Reckoning’), ‘Wicker Park’ is a remake of the 1996 French film, ‘L’Appartement.’ McGuigan makes extensive clever use of split screens and flash backs as he tells and re-tells key sequences from different points of view. It’s an intriguing style and an engrossing story that suffers from major logic flaws, especially given this day and age of cell phones.

Lisa and her best friend, Alex (Rose Byrne) both have cell phones but neither Matthew nor his best friend Luke (Matthew Lillard) have phones, relying on notoriously unreliable notes and cards which are, of course, vulnerable to being intercepted. German actress Kruger is very beautiful – she was Helen of Troy in this year’s Brad Pitt vehicle – but she wasn’t a convincing object of a thousand ships in ‘Troy’ and she’s not particularly convincing as someone’s object of obsession in ‘Wicker Park.’ Maybe it’s the language barrier, but Kruger doesn’t do more than a bit of Sharon Stone like voguing.

Another ‘Troy’ alumnus, Australian actress, Rose Byrne, has been watching too many Monica Bellucci movies. Suppressing her Aussie accent, Bryne ends up like a parody of a European actress in a film noir with strange dramatic simulations of Bellucci or Isabella Rossellini. Given that her role of Alex is pivotal to the entire film, she’s the key to ‘Wicker Park’s failure. In the movie’s funniest scene, Byrne butchers a scene from Shakespeare – supposedly extra intense when she sees who’s in the audience. Harnett looks at Lillard and exclaims rather unpersuasively, “Wow, she’s really good.”

Josh Hartnett, who surfed a tidal wave of hype as Hollywood’s hottest Young Star, looks more and more like a young Tommy Lee Jones. Unfortunately, he’s not particularly passionate – too laid back for the “boyfriend who can’t forget” type. Matthew Lillard, after years of playing second fiddle to Freddie Prinze Jr., knows how to be welcome comedic relief. But overall ‘Wicker Park’ is a nasty misogynist movie where women are “psycho” for their obsessions but Josh Hartnett’s character – who has a wall covered with photos of his girlfriend, breaks into apartments, casually dumps his career and girlfriend of two years, and sleeps in strange hotel rooms as he stalks his lost love – he’s just heart-broken.

The trailer would have you believe that this movie is like ‘Single White Female’ – it’s not. But one extra pass through a script doctor to clean up some blatant logic errors and a more capable cast would have made ‘Wicker Park’ something special. As it is, it’s just laughably bad.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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