Directed by Paul McGuigan.
Written by Brandon Boyce. Based on the film "L'Appartement" by
Starring Josh Hartnett, Matthew Lillard, Rose Byrne and Diane
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 9/6/04
When I first saw trailers for it, I thought
"Wicker Park"--the new Josh Hartnett romance/mystery flick--was
going to blow. So, I spent most of my afternoon today in the
theater with this thing waiting for the suckage to begin.
But, surprisingly, it never comes.
Hartnett plays Matthew, an ad executive that is trying to pick out a
ring for his longtime girlfriend (Jessica Paré) when the film opens.
He's having a hard time not only because of the cost of buying a
nice ring these days...more importantly, he's still in love with his
old flame Lisa (Diane Kruger, from
"Troy"), who left him
after two intense months and Matty Boy still hasn't gotten over her.
Over dinner one night, Matt thinks that he sees Lisa leaving the
restaurant he's dining in...and, he spends the rest of the flick
trying to track her down, with the help of his good buddy Luke
Roughly halfway through the mystery, we meet
another girl named Lisa (Rose Byrne, also from "Troy"), who shares
many of the same traits as Matt's old flame, but looks completely
different. Whoa, what's going on here? Twists and turns
later, we get an ending, which...well, I'll leave that to you.
Let me first say that I don't think Hartnett
is right for this part; I like him, and have liked him in his other
Days and 40 Nights", for example), but in this part--some shades
of which were in the above romantic comedy--he just comes off as
cheesy, and for some stretches you just don't buy his character, if
that makes any sense. In particular, the flashback scenes
featuring the Matt/Lisa #1 courtship are plain ol' silly...the
unintentional comedy of watching Matt fawn over putting shoes on
Lisa's feet is bad, just bad! Off the top of my head, Colin
Farrell could do this 30 times better, but I doubt the Irishman
would have taken a part in a French flick remake of this caliber.
Anyway, Hartnett is probably my main beef with "Wicker Park."
The rest is surprisingly engaging. For
a while, it's kind of fun watching Matt try to figure out what
happened with his relationship with Lisa #1...and, naturally, it's
fun watching what will happen with Lisa #2. Lillard provides
his continuing high level of sidekickness, once again giving us the
occasionally funny line to bridge the serious side of the main plot.
Both of the female leads give us enough shades of their characters
to give them life; for reasons that you will see when you watch the
film, I thought that Byrne gives a great performance given the
script conditions she is working under.
Besides Hartnett, the other major problem
with "Wicker Park" comes in its last 20 minutes; once you are told
what is really going on here, there are way too many little bits to
cover, so that we end up backtracking a lot more than I liked.
I didn't mind the filmmakers giving us the real skinny with so much
running time left; it just takes them a looonnnnngggg time to spell
it all out, complete with a revisiting of almost every other scene
in the film's first hour. After the fourth or fifth one, I was
"I FUCKING GET IT ALREADY"
but, sadly, they didn't consult me when
writing the film. I would love to see the French version of
the film (called "L'Appartement"), because certainly it is better
than the remake, as these things always seem to be. For $6,
"Wicker Park" is not a bad deal.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard