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Wicker Park /

Rated: PG-13

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

Directed by: Paul McGuigan

Produced by: Marcus Viscidi, Andre Lamal, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg
Written by:
Brandon Boyce


Josh Hartnett in MGM's Wicker Park
Diane Kruger and Rose Byrne in MGM's Wicker Park
Josh Hartnett and Diane Kruger in MGM's Wicker Park

     Quite a movie Wicker Park is—one that defies its genre—it refuses to conform to Hollywood’s standards. It intrigued me, it amazed me, and it hypnotized me. For its entire duration, an invisible force-field had me wrapped up, snug, in my uncomfortable seat and couldn’t have been happier. But, with all of that said, the movie is missing an essential component, required of all films to succeed. There isn’t a hint of passion behind Wicker Park; it is rather generic in its interestingness. As well as its complex and deceptive plot may work, I couldn’t help but feel empty, as I left the screening, which had had me fully engaged, for nearly two hours. So much attention to detail has never resulted in a product this hollow.

     Sitting on the bench outside of the multiplex walls, waiting for my mom to pick me up, my mind searched for someone to blame for Wicker Park’s one, nagging flaw. And, believe me, I considered everyone in the realm of possibility. From director Paul McGuigan to the cast to the light-man to the microphone operator, no stone was left unturned. Not only was I unable to discover the person at fault, but couldn’t settle on a scapegoat, either. I thought long and hard about giving Wicker Park a fuller recommendation, as a result of my lack of stone-cold criticism, but the unimaginable coldness it thrust upon me continues to haunt me, two days after seeing it.

     The plot is impossible to explain to one who has not experienced it, after partaking in its entirety. Wicker Park plays with time so much, throughout its running-length, the concept itself, in reality, now seems distorted, to me. If I was to even begin to try to analyze it without spoiling anything, I’d find myself running in circles and without a place to hide. Unlike the majority of critics, I don’t find this to be an indicator of plot holes or character-inconsistencies. In fact, I was enlightened by all my confusion and frustration with Wicker Park; such only made me more interested, alert, and attentive, when watching it.

     Wicker Park boasts not two, but three leads, all of which turn in solid performances. The incredibly underrated Josh Hartnett masters a kind of firm internal conflict in the role of the protagonist, which is surprising, given his age and target audience. (I wonder how teenage girls will react to Wicker Park’s overall freakiness.) Rose Byrne and Diane Kruger play the two women who create most all of the film’s mystery. The former’s work could certainly be called eerie; my skin was crawling every time she appeared, onscreen. The latter actress, who I absolutely loved in Troy, is the weakest of the three, but can be credited for bringing much of Wicker Park’s meaty emotion to the table, and also dishes up her own fair share of appeal. On a related note, I’m not sure whether I should be taking Matthew Lillard’s ghastly supporting performance as humorous or simply ironic. I suppose such is insignificant, given the fact that it fails on both levels. His role, that of Hartnett’s character’s best-buddy, is one of the few obvious weak links in Wicker Park, albeit minor.

     If I had used spoilers, I could’ve developed a firmer opinion on Wicker Park and been more detailed in this review, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to do so. Even with an apt warning of my giving the picture’s outcome away, I fear that potential viewers would’ve been lured into reading about the plot, and the experience would’ve been spoiled, for them. Make no mistake—I do want Wicker Park to be seen—even with all of my complaints of it. It’s just disappointing that, in all its meanness and leanness, it had to be so detached from its audiences. Even the sex scene feels mind-numbing. Perhaps I set my standards too highly, or perhaps I’m just an optimist. At the end of the day, all I want to do is be able to claim that I saw a great movie. Wicker Park left me with no such luck.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (9.13.2004)

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