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Wicker Park

Krissi Banzon

Directed by Paul McGuigan
Writing credits: Brandon Boyce (screenplay)
Gilles Mimouni (film L'Appartement)
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 114 min
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Diane Kruger, and Matthew Lillard

From the moment Wicker Park begins, audiences are treated to a dazzling juxtaposition of scenes panning in and out, accomplishing nothing but giving one a headache. Supposedly the effects were a foreshadowing of the direction the film was going - to a riot of confusing flashbacks and abrupt changes in points of view.

The camera tricks director Paul McGuigan used in virtually every scene suspiciously looked like a cover-up of the fact that the movie would turn out to be nothing but a silly romance.

Matt, a young businessman (Josh Hartnett) is on his way to dinner with his fiancée and business associates in Wicker Park, Chicago.

He overhears a woman on the phone through a vent between the toilet and the phone booth, and he is convinced that the person he heard was his lost love, Lisa (Diane Kruger from Troy), who had disappeared without a word two years before.

The story is about a creepy love triangle, because of all the stalking the characters did, which, strangely enough, becomes an even crazier love square.

Two years ago, Matt takes one look at Lisa, falls in love and begins following her around in Wicker Park. He finally gets up the nerve to talk to her and they become lovers. It would have been a happy ending right then had it not been for Lisa's girlfriend Alex (Rose Byrne), who is also secretly in love with Matt. She tries to sabotage their relationship and follows him around as well. Aha! The stalker becomes the stalkee!

Matt's best friend Luke (Matthew Lillard) completes the love square by dating Alex. And believe it or not, Matt has no clue who Alex is until close to the end of the film, and Luke has no idea that Alex knows Lisa. Confused yet? Don't worry, everyone else is!

The only chemistry during this movie was the popcorn digesting in my stomach, because both Hartnett and Kruger's performances were flat and unconvincing. Only Byrne's character showed some emotional, albeit scary, depth as the stalker slash unrequited lover.

Wicker Park was supposedly inspired by and loosely based on the French film L'Appartement. Filmmakers and writers need to know when to leave well enough alone. Remakes or spin-offs should be outlawed because these types of movies usually accomplish nothing but defile its original.

No one saw the original French film, because it failed to make it to mainstream release and usual film festival circuits, but it must have left quite an impact on scriptwriter Brandon Boyce to have written Wicker Park. Although the salute to the original is endearing, it might have been better for Boyce to have sent the original writer a fan letter instead of making people sit for 114 arduous minutes for Wicker Park.

So in the tradition of critiquing movies on the five-star scale, I give Wicker Park two and a half. Four if you are thirteen years old and aspire to marry pretty boy Hartnett.

Have you seen Wicker Park? Tell us what you thought about it.

LitNet: 21 June 2005

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