andythesaint (andythesaint) wrote in topfive_reviews,

Movie Review: Wicker Park (2004)

Soon, all neighbourhoods in America will have their own movie

Wicker Park (2004)

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew Lillard, Diane Kruger

Directed by: Paul McGuigan

I pretty much went to go see this movie because I liked the soundtrack. The Postal Service's cover of "Against All Odds" is one of my favourite songs of the year, so it's video made me want to see the movie. The movie itself was an alright film that could have been much better if not for a few elements: the director, the actors, and the script. Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Kim hated the movie, but she pretty much hates any movie that we go see that she doesn't love. If she doesn't like it, and she went to see it, then she automatically hates it. No middle ground with her. I think I only want to go see movies that Kim hates from now on, because it's so much fun to see her get worked up about them. Hmmm... by that logic, we should go see National Treasure, cause I'm sure she'll hate that. So will I.

I, on the other hand, did not hate the movie, and it's not because of the soundtrack (which, of course, was barely heard in the film- even the Postal Service song was left out. I thought for sure it would play as the credits rolled, as it fits the movie perfectly. No dice). It is a really interesting study in non-linear storytelling, with some really interesting visual techniques. Sadly, it's obvious that the director was too concerned with being an interesting technician, because he fails to give the audience a reason to care about the characters in the movie (unless the audience is those prone to fall for actors merely because they are nice to look at, which is obviously what director Paul McGuigan was hoping for). Since the film is character-driven, not caring about the characters means that you don't care about the movie, a drawback I'd say.

At times, the film plays like a creepy/stalker version of the John Cusack film Serendipity with all its coincidences and near-misses. Sadly, it doesn't manage to achieve the spark that Cusack and Kate Beckensale were able to achieve in their one night together that Wicker Park leads Josh Hartnett and Diane Kruger had two months to achieve. The montage of scenes between Hartnett and Kruger, the girl he spends the movie trying to find after losing her two years previous, like the entire movie, fails to connect with any true spark or passion, instead seeming like an advertisement for the young and beautiful in love. The rest of the movie is set up like a victimless thriller, a ride of misdirection and clever flashbacks designed to prologue the intrigue over whether or not Hartnett will find the girl. The problem is, we don't really care. At one point, I thought he was merely obsessed over a girl he briefly dated, but apparently, they were the loves of each others' lives.

Therein lies the problem with the movie, it tries very hard to be clever (as an adaptation of a 1996 french film, L'Appartement it has to be clever, the French are all about being clever), but fails to find its heart. Because it's a Hollywood film, it wants to be a romance, but heartless romances just don't play well for me. The movie could have been so much more interesting if it had been about obsession, which is what it seemed to be about for most of the movie. The focus was on the wrong character, not surprisingly, the most famous, and the easiest promoted, actor (Josh Hartnett). I liked the way the movie was filmed, and was entertained enough by what it was trying to do to not have hated the movie. But, if you weren't sure about wanting to see the movie, I'd say skip it.

Tags: josh_hartnett, matthew_lillard, movies, rose_byrne
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