Wicker Park

Stupid people in movies are really annoying.  This same week gives audiences Paparazzi, which is populated with morons and cretins, and Wicker Park, where the people are marginally smarter.  Wicker Park is a remake of the French film L'Appartement, which starred husband and wife team of Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci (one of the restaurants here is called Bellucci's).  It is a dumb romantic thriller/stalker movie predicated upon the fact that the people on screen will never act like people do in real life.  The script has them do (or not do) certain things that force the story to artificially continue.  Any normal living person would do the opposite of these characters, and thereby nullify the entire premise. 

Wicker Park jumps back and forth in time.  Two years ago, Matthew (Josh Hartnett, Hollywood Homicide, 40 Days and 40 Nights), a photographer, met and fell in love with Lisa (Diane Kruger, Troy, Not For or Against), a dancer.  The two were made for each other.  Then, Matthew asked Lisa to move in with him, and he never heard from her again.  In the present, Matthew is getting nervous about his looming engagement to Rebecca (Jessica Pare, Bollywood/Hollywood, Lost and Delirious).  At a restaurant, he thinks he catches a glimpse of Lisa, and decides to spend all his time looking for her.  The Lisa he meets (Rose Byrne, Troy, I Capture the Castle) has some uncanny similarities to his Lisa like the same perfume, the same shoe size, and the same makeup compact, but obviously isn't her.  Still, there is something about the memory of Lisa, or his pre-engagement mental state, that throws him into a relationship with this new Lisa.

This is a long movie, much longer than it has to be.  This is partially because Brandon Boyce's (Apt Pupil) adaptation spends so much time zipping between past and present; in essence wasting time.  It is not much of a spoiler to say that this new Lisa, really named Alex, has some sort of obsession with Matthew.  See, the real Lisa is still in Chicago, and it's a matter of waiting to see what actually happened two years ago, if Matthew and Lisa will ever get back together, and how everything came to be in the first place.  Worse, is that Matthew's friend (Matthew Lillard, Scooby-Doo 2, The Perfect Score) is dating Alex, so that throws another potential wrinkle into events.

Director Paul McGuigan (The Reckoning, Gangster No. 1) is never able to get things past the level of tedious.  Part of the reason for the continuing subterfuge is the fact that Matthew and Lisa apparently do not communicate like humans.  They do not leave messages, and in one case, Lisa stopped leaving messages after apparently a few days.  Odder still is that Matthew has a cell phone but no call waiting.  And everybody refuses to call each other, instead insisting on meeting each other at appointed times, which makes it really convenient for the other party not to be there.  And also, apparently two years ago, nobody here had cell phones.

All of the characters are also a bit too one-dimensional.  Byrne overplays the stalker part, and Hartnett is, well Josh Hartnett.  As an actor, he is not very good at conveying different emotions and instead looks befuddled, possibly from trying to understand why his character is acting so stupidly.  This is a more complex role than those he usually goes for, so it's good to see him stretching, but he should probably try to pick something better.  Kruger just needs to look beautiful (well, she did just play Helen of Troy).  Lillard is surprisingly the most affecting actor, providing some comic relief and a few quieter, more serious moments.  Nevertheless, nobody gives a performance good enough to care about.  Yeah, it sucks that Matthew lost Lisa, but maybe he should spend the extra couple of bucks a month on call waiting.  The various twists and turns of the plot are just too preposterous, and are more likely to induce laughter than suspense. 

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 55 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexuality and language.

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