14 September 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
A stilted, episodic tale of obsession that grows more ridiculous by the second (with much unintended audience giggling to attest to the fact), the MGM picture has been taken out of long-term storage, dusted off and given a last-gasp-of-summer release, but it will unlikely be requiring anything much bigger than a breadbasket to collect its boxoffice earnings.
Like the original, which won a BAFTA Award for best foreign-language film, the story concerns a young exec (Josh Hartnett) who, despite being engaged to his boss' younger sister, risks throwing it all away when the woman (Diane Kruger) who was once the love of his life before abruptly disappearing resurfaces in a Chicago restaurant.
Or so it would appear.
Nevertheless, that possibility is enough to send the resmitten Matthew on the phantom Lisa's trail, leading to a whole lot of dead ends and wispy flashbacks to those carefree, happier days when he first stalked, uh, met her.
Without revealing any of the film's trick plot twists, it turns out Matthew doesn't have the monopoly on obsession.
While on the subject, it would appear director Paul McGuigan, who was also responsible for this year's much better The Reckoning, has a thing for shots with mirrors in them. That probably has something to say about appearances being deceiving and people's reflections not always being indicative of their actions, but all the fancy camera angles and split-screen effects in the world can't compensate for a script (credited to Brandon Boyce and L'Appartement writer-director Gilles Mimouni) in which characters say things like, "Take my picture. I'll feel beautiful tonight!"
Not that the original was all that original -- there's more than a little Single White Female and a touch of Vertigo in the telling -- but leads Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci provided the necessary dark and sultry (respectively) undercurrents.
Here, Hartnett, an actor trained in the Keanu Reeves school of laid-back emoting, and newcomer Kruger just aren't the right people for the job.
Providing some much-needed energy, meanwhile, is the dependable Matthew Lillard as Hartnett's supportive buddy, while Rose Byrne shows up later in the role of Alex -- and let's just say it's probably no accident she shares her name with a certain character played by Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Lakeshore Entertainment present
A Lakeshore Entertainment production
A Paul McGuigan film
Director: Paul McGuigan
Screenwriter: Brandon Boyce
Based on the motion picture screenplay L'Appartement by: Gilles Mimouni
Director of photography: Peter Sova
Production designer: Richard Bridgland
Editor: Andrew Hulme
Costume designer: Odette Gadoury
Music: Cliff Martinez
Matthew: Josh Hartnett
Alex: Rose Byrne
Luke: Matthew Lillard
Lisa: Diane Kruger
Daniel: Christopher Cousins
Rebecca: Jessica Pare
MPAA rating: PG-13
Running time -- 115 minutes
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