At a certain point in the day, the afternoon sunlight comes streaming through the blinds in my apartment, striking my television screen and making it all but unwatchable. Well, I watched a lot of DVDs today (All About Lily Chou-Chou
, and A Band Apart
for instance), and late in the afternoon, I found myself faced with an unwatchable TV screen. What to do? Why go to the movies. However, I was faced with an unenviable choice. Which movie with middling reviews would I go see? Vanity Fair
? Open Water
? Wicker Park
? Hmm, well Wicker Park
, an English-language remake of the 1996 French film L’Appartement
, is directed by Paul McGuigan (Gangster No. 1
and The Reckoning
) and co-stars my current on-screen crush, Rose Byrne, so Wicker Park
Well, it wasn’t Citizen Kane
, but Wicker Park
was a fairly entertaining experience. For one thing, its really nothing like the commercials, which are designed to evoke such glossy, early 90s thrillers such as Single White Female
or The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
, but surprise, surprise, Wicker Park
is barely even a thriller and Byrne’s character, despite several choice moments featured in the trailer (which are actually taken out of context), is not a psycho (well, not really). Wicker Park
is actually a fairly old-fashioned romantic, melodrama. Its one of those films where the plot is nothing but a contrived series of coincidences, but the screenplay works so hard to cover all the bases (and I mean all the bases, what with the many flashbacks filling in all the backstory, over and over again, from different perspectives each time) that the rational response of “that’s fucking impossible!” is morphed into something along the lines of “aww, that’s nice.” And McGuigan directs the hell out of the film, artsying up this relatively old-fashioned, pop melodrama with moody cinematography, slow-motion shots, freeze-frames coupled with zooms, and digital superimpositions for no discernible point. However, Chicago in the winter looks appropriately cold, really cold.
is actually a reunion of sorts, featuring both of the female, romantic leads from Troy
, charisma-free but beautiful Diane Kruger and cute as a button Rose Byrne, who vie for the affections of up and coming advertising executive Josh Hartnett. An obsession with his first love, Lisa (Kruger), never ceased after she disappeared two years previously, and a fleeting glance of a woman in a bar, who may or may not be Lisa, is enough to propel Hartnett’s character on a wintry quest to find his true love, not to mention to blow off both his job and potential fiancee. Aided by old friend, and shoe salesman, Matthew Lillard, Hartnett eventually finds “Lisa,” but it turns out to be another woman all together (Byrne). The film enters semi-Vertigo
territory, both when Hartnett begins to fall for the new woman, and when the screenplay starts providing extensive details via flashback halfway through the film, setting up a bit of Hitchcockian tension as we wait for Hartnett to discover the truth.
Perhaps inspired by Hitchcock, the film eschews standard generic conventions and does not go on autopilot, playing up the soapier, romantic aspects of the film, and making Byrne’s character, who could have been just a stock psychotic, much more sympathetic, even contrite. Also refreshing is the lack of violence, you know, except for the emotional kind. While not exactly a good film per se (most people, would consider Wicker Park
a “guilty pleasure” but I hate that term), it is constantly watchable and entertaining, and even surprising in some respects. At least worth watching on cable or DVD.