Wicker Park

on September 03, 2004 by Kim Williamson
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A powerfully compelling film that gains most of its intrigue via the artifice of purposefully withholding information from the moviegoer, "Wicker Park" is the story, told in a fashion that cuts forward and backward in time, of young gent Matthew ("Hollywood Homicide's" Josh Hartnett) who, on one wintry day, spies beautiful blonde Lisa ("Troy's" Diane Kruger) on a city street and follows her, trying to discover who she is. On that frosty day, someone else has also espied, and thus begins the drama of this psychological tale, involving the criss-crossing lives of Matthew and Lisa but also best friends Alex (Rose Byrne, also from "Troy") and Matthew Lillard (eschewing his "Scooby-Doo"/"Without a Paddle" comedic talents).

Scottish helmer Paul McGuigan, in tandem with cinematographer Peter Sova (who worked with the director on his earlier "The Reckoning" and "Gangster No. 1"), brings a great brooding look to "Wicker Park," and his abilities with his actors, all of which are fine, adds depth and interest that in lesser hands might not have been realized. Brandon Boyce, basing his script on that for the 1996 French film "L'Appartement," has uniquely Americanized the setting of the earlier movie's Paris--it seems like Chicago, but a very cosmopolitan Chicago, also thanks to the production design of Richard Bridgland (another of the McGuigan team, having designed his "Gangster No. 1" and "The Acid House"). The in-sync work of composer Cliff Martinez, one-time drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is equally effective.

Even more importantly, Hartnett, although a bit too stoic, brings an intensity to his role that makes believable his two-year search for a woman who, once won, seems to disappear inexplicably. An earlier working title for the production was "Obsessed," but Hartnett's obsession with Lisa always remains "pure"--he searches for her simply because he loves her. Although the pleasing Kruger, not quite typecast, gets to play little more than the beautiful blonde, Byrne succeeds in bringing the most emotiveness to her characterization, which pays unexpected dividends as, in the end, surprisingly, hers is the central role. Starring Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew Lillard and Diane Kruger. Directed by Paul McGuigan. Written by Brandon Boyce. Produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Andre Lamal and Marcus Viscidi. An MGM release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for sexuality and language. Running time: 114 min

Tags: Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew Lillard, Diane Kruger, Directed by Paul McGuigan, Written by Brandon Boyce, Produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Andre Lamal, Marcus Viscidi, An MGM release, Drama, drummer, stoic, intensity, fashion, psychological, criss-crossing
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