Projections - Movie Reviews

Wicker Park
Wicker Park
Starring Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew Lillard,
Diane Kruger, Christopher Cousins, Jessica Pare

An appealing cast led by John Hartnett (Hollywood Homicide) can’t make Wicker Park the intriguing psychological drama it wants to be.

Paul McGuigan’s stylishly disorienting film intricately shifts in time and works diligently off the titular setting, a triangular-shaped public park in Chicago. This adaptation of the 1996 French thriller “L’Appartement” starring Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci gets bogged down in its latter half after unveiling a deceptive, semi-simple love story.

Hartnett’s Matthew is back in Chicago after two years in New York with a new fiancee Rebecca (Jessica Pare of Lost and Delirious) and a new corporate advertising job that offers a bright future from his passion in photography.

The Windy City was where he suffered heartache at the hands of Lisa, played by Diane Kruger (Helen in Troy). The screenplay by Brandon Boyce generates enough moments that make the memory of Lisa, who suddenly disappeared to choreograph a theatrical tour in London, come alive in confusing occurrences for Matt. Things might have been easier for him with his own cell phone as much of the action pivots around a meeting at a swank restaurant called Belluccis.

Matt tries to locate her with the help of old college buddy Luke, acted in an innocently cheerful way by Matthew Lillard, (Scooby Doo 2). There will be some unexpected detours and coincidences in this search and a love quadrangle forms from the presence of a stage actress, Alex, an alluring, mysterious Rose Byrne who is in a Shakespearian production. She is seen in a different light, especially by Matt who knows her by the name of Lisa and has an affair with her.

What results from the passion of love and sacrifice that comes on abruptly is a romantic thriller that gets knotted from its perspectives that remind one of moments in “Strangers On A Train” and more recently, Single White Female. But, McGuigan and Boyce slowly unravel the mystery through flashbacks that turn out to be a letdown of a ponderous, obsessive nature. The air of ambiguity is hardly used to good effect even with repeating sequences featuring a key, a note, and a shoe with a red sole and broken heel.

There are plenty of shadings of character and story that keep the actors on their toes, but they don’t generate enough audience interest, with Lillard seeming to modulate the best with the edgy, reflective qualities under the surface. Hartnett doesn’t show the same depth of his work as in O or The Virgin Suicides, but remains watch able opposite his contrasting co-stars, the former German model in Kruger and the Australian actress in Byrne who intones a spotless American accent.

McGuigan tries to keep things taut and a hold on the audience with imagery that includes zoom-ins and split-screens, but Wicker Park finally arrives in a congested O’Hare airport emotionally vacuous. Perhaps it’s true to itself in a subconsciously manipulative way that loses its complex elusive force illuminated by the notion that love makes one do crazy thing.

Wicker Park

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