Sunday 31 March 2024

Movie Review: Wicker Park (2004)

Genre: Romantic Drama Mystery  
Director: Paul McGuigan  
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Diane Kruger, Rose Byrne  
Running Time: 114 minutes  

Synopsis: In Chicago, advertising executive Matt Simon (John Hartnett) is engaged to his boss' sister Rebecca (Jessica ParĂ©) and about to head to China on a business trip. But at a restaurant he overhears the voice of his ex-girlfriend Lisa (Diane Kruger). They had initially met two years prior when he worked at a video equipment store, and were deeply in love when she inexplicably dropped out of his life. Now Matt postpones his trip and sets out to find Lisa, a search that will involve his best friend and shoe salesperson Luke (Matthew Lillard) and Luke's girlfriend Alex (Rose Byrne), a theatre actress.

What Works Well: This remake of the French movie L'Appartement successfully emphasizes style in a story of elusive romance, second chances, deception, and desperate longing. Director Paul McGuigan uses split screens, dreamy filtering, plenty of snowy urban landscapes, and frequent time jumps to convey interactions between fate, loss, love, and infatuation. The hypnotic aesthetics and complex narrative structure deepen the eternal soulmate search, and allow layers of revelations, secrets, and hidden agendas to unpeel with careful timing. Matt Simon's singular determination is a suitable role for Josh Hartnett, while Diane Kruger and Rose Byrne convey the challenge of contrasting perspectives.

What Does Not Work As Well: The plot is built on a tower of just-in-time coincidences, and demands questionable character decisions and actions (or non-decisions and non-actions) at almost every turn. The multiple flashbacks and variable points-of-view occasionally threaten coherence.

Conclusion: A pleasingly perplexing pursuit of passion.

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