Wicker Park (6/10)
2004 by Tony Medley
When Bjorn Borg was
king of the tennis world, it was said that you couldn’t tell if he was
winning 6-0, 6-0, or losing 6-0, 6-0, his demeanor was so stoic. Josh
Hartnett is the Bjorn Borg of acting. Tell him to emote joy, sorrow,
pain, loss, enthusiasm, despair, and any other of hundreds of emotions
and he’ll always look the same. In a tennis player, this is a great
asset. Not so in an actor.
Take a pretty good
script (Brandon Boyce, based on Gilles Mimouni’s Screenplay for L’Appartement,
1996), a pretty good Director (Paul McGuigan) and a horrible cast,
and what you get is Wicker Park. Matthew (Hartnett) is on his way
to China when he thinks he sees his old girl friend, Lisa (Diane
Kruger), who he thinks dumped him. He starts an odyssey to try to find
her and runs into Alex (Rose Byrne), all along getting encouragement
from his friend, Luke (Matthew Lillard).
warps time and keeps the audience guessing about what’s going on and
what time frame we’re actually in. With a good cast and a good editor,
this could have been a scary, mesmerizing movie. Unfortunately, once
Hartnett opens his squinty eyes, you have no clue what he’s feeling,
if anything, so impassive is he. Compounding Hartnett’s sang froid,
Lillard is monumentally unbelievable as his buddy who’s got a crush on
Alex. His looks are so weird, the constant smile on his face so goofy,
he doesn’t come close to portraying either a buddy or a guy with a
hopeless crush on Alex. To be fair, Kruger is just supposed to be
an ephemeral, elusive beauty, so there’s not much responsibility
placed on her shoulders.
Lost among all this
ineptitude is Rose Byrne, who creates a truly creepy character.
Unfortunately, her performance is lost by the incompetence of her fellow
The film actually
sweeps you along as you really can’t figure out what’s happening.
But after 90 minutes it turns from creepy to campy. At my screening
there was laughter where McGuigan and Boyce couldn’t want or expect
it. And that’s a shame because they had the thread of a good film
here. This could have made a terrific 90-minute movie. It loses its pace
and mystery as it ambles on far too long. It made me want to see the
original, L’Appartement. The French know how to do these
things. Unfortunately, I don’t think L’Appartement was ever
released in America, so we’re stuck with Wicker Park.
September 1, 2004