Two years ago, Matthew (Josh Hartnett) fell madly in love at first sight with Lisa (Diane Kruger), a dancer. Their affair came to an abrupt end when Lisa failed to turn up at a date. Now Matthew is back in town and has a new girlfriend (Jessica Pare). One day he catches sight of a girl he thinks is Lisa - and the old passion is rekindled. Instead of flying to China on his planned business trip, he stays in Chicago, secretly trying to track her down, with a little help from his shoe store clerk buddy Luke (Matthew Lillard), who is himself trying to win the affections of Alex (Rose Byrne), who had befriended Lisa when Lisa needed a safe haven from an aggressive ex. That was before Lisa's sudden trip to Europe replacing an injured dancer. Matthew's obsessive search leads him through a byzantine maze of deceptive clues.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A convoluted structure makes this story hard work, but like the French original (L'Appartement , with Vincent Cassell, Monica Bellucci and Romane Bohringer), it engages with its dazzling zig zag of time frames and varied perspective. Stylish flourishes - like the use of reflective glass shots, where we sometimes see layered images on both sides of the reflection - tend to add to the sense of mystery and deepen the puzzle.
The main attraction for director Paul McGuigan seems to be the cat and mouse game that Alex (Rose Byrne) plays with Matthew; she is not quite a 'bunny boiler' but her obsessive love for Matthew drives her to do terribly mean things - and these are the things that propel the action and make it a thriller. Rose Byrne is splendid as the lovelorn mystery girl, and Matthew Lillard gives us an excellent, playful sidekick for light relief, but John Hartnett and Diane Kruger are never given a chance to show us how deeply they are in love for the box of cine-magic tricks to have full impact. Perhaps they're miscast.
The stalking lover who forces Lisa to seek refuge at Alex's apartment, which enables Alex to play 'Lisa' when Matthew turns up, is glimpsed but once, in the hope that we can accept this device without question.
For all its seamless time transitions, Wicker Park is weighed down by its complex structure and its impact diffused. All the same, there are many positive things about the film, including the final sequences when revelations and resolution come together, and Wicker Park threatens to become the Waterloo Bridge of today - as the little park where the lovers usually meet has only one of them in it.
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WICKER PARK (M)
CAST: Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew Lillard, Diane Kruger, Christopher Cousins
PRODUCER: Andre Lamal, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Marcus Viscidi
DIRECTOR: Paul McGuigan
SCRIPT: Brandon Boyce (original film L'Appartement by Gilles Mimouni)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Sova
EDITOR: Andrew Hulme
MUSIC: Cliff Martinez
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Bridgland
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 9, 2004
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: MGM
VIDEO RELEASE: May 11, 2005