14 September 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Wicker Park may have been adapted the 1996 French film L'Appartement, but pretty much all evidence of what was once an engaging psychodrama has been lost in the translation.

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.

Wicker Park


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

Executive producers: Georges Benayoun, Gilles Mimouni, Henry Winterstern, Harley Tannebaum

Producers: Andrew Lamal, Marcus Viscidi, Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi

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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