Wicker Park (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul McGuigan|
|Produced by||Gary Lucchesi
|Screenplay by||Brandon Boyce|
by Gilles Mimouni
|Music by||Cliff Martinez|
|Edited by||Andrew Hulme|
|September 3, 2004|
Wicker Park is a 2004 American psychological drama/romantic mystery film directed by Paul McGuigan and starring Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Diane Kruger and Matthew Lillard. The film is a remake of the 1996 French movie L'Appartement, which in turn is loosely based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream. It was nominated for the Grand Prix at the Film Festival of Montreal, the city in which the movie was partially filmed.
Matt Simon, a young advertising executive, returns to Chicago with his fiancée, Rebecca, after spending the last two years in New York. He bumps into his old friend Luke on the way into a meeting at a restaurant, in preparation for a business trip to China. Once inside, Matt thinks he overhears Lisa, the beautiful dancer he was in love with two years before who had vanished overnight. Unable to confront the woman he believes may be Lisa, he blows off the trip and instead embarks on an obsessive search for her, as the story of Matt and Lisa's romance unfolds in flashbacks.
A key card which the woman leaves at the restaurant leads Matt to a hotel, where he finds Lisa's silver compact and an article marked in a newspaper. He leaves a note for Lisa at the restaurant bar, borrows Luke's car and trails the man from the newspaper article to an apartment. There Matt discovers a note to Lisa under the door, with her key enclosed. The apartment is deserted, but he leaves Lisa a note himself, to meet him in Wicker Park, and keeps the key. An ecstatic Matt returns the car to Luke, who is furious because he has missed a date with his new girlfriend Alex. When Alex calls, Matt takes the blame and Luke is mollified.
The next day, after waiting in vain at Wicker Park, Matt goes back to the apartment and is caught by a woman who is also named Lisa. She says the apartment is hers, and she has a coat and red-soled shoes with a broken heel identical to Lisa's—shoes that came from Luke's shop, where Lisa first met Matt. She claims the man in the newspaper was stalking her, which is why she was at the hotel, and asks Matt to stay the night. They end up sleeping together, but after she leaves for work, he arranges to catch another flight to China and deliberately drops the apartment key down a grate. Flashbacks reveal that she is actually Alex, Lisa's old neighbor and friend, and an aspiring actress. We learn that Alex saw Matt and fell in love with him, but before she found the courage to speak to him he fell in love with Lisa. The man from the newspaper was stalking Lisa, and Alex agreed to swap apartments with her for a few days before Lisa left for a new job in London.
Luke persuades Matt to come with him that night to see Alex perform in Twelfth Night, before he leaves for China. She is unrecognizable in stage makeup, but panics after she sees him in the audience with Luke. Matt, having retrieved the key from the grate, returns to the apartment, feels the real Lisa's presence in spite of its emptiness, and spends the night. Alex sleeps with Luke that night, thinking Matt has left for China. In the morning, when Matt calls Luke, she answers the phone then drops it in a panic. She overhears Luke say Matt is at the apartment, and runs out to call him and meet him there. After she leaves, Lisa calls and asks Luke to tell Matt to meet her at 3:00, saying he'll know where. When Alex arrives at the apartment, Matt gives her another pair of red-soled shoes, Lisa's size, but they are too big. She realizes he suspects something, but Matt says he can exchange them and leaves. Alex then calls Luke and asks him to meet her at the restaurant.
Now suspicious, Matt follows "Lisa" (Alex), bumps into Luke, and follows him into the restaurant to finally meet Alex, the girl he's in love with. There she is, the second "Lisa." Her deception is revealed at last. Matt describes the girl he met as a liar, only thinking of herself. Alex protests that the girl (really herself, though Luke doesn't know it) must have been in love with Matt and wound up doing crazy things, things she never thought she could do. Flashbacks have revealed that two years ago, the same day that Matt asked Lisa to move in with him, Lisa was offered a last minute job touring with a show in Europe and had to jump on a plane. Lisa had given Alex a note to deliver to Matt, telling him she loves him and wants to live with him, along with a key to his apartment. Instead, Alex had kept the note and deleted all the messages Lisa had left for him on his answering machine. She even had told Lisa that she'd caught Matt in bed with another woman. Meanwhile, Matt had waited and waited at Wicker Park, where Lisa had promised to meet him. He had never learned why Lisa left, seemingly without a word. Matt is understandably angry as he and Alex argue about her motives. Still unaware that Alex is also "Lisa" number two, surprised by all the vehemence, Luke interrupts. He tells Matt that Lisa called and wants him to meet her at three o'clock before she leaves for London. At first, Matt's not sure where to meet. Luke goes to ask the bartender if he knows anything, and Alex uses the opportunity to give Matt Lisa's note. He realizes she's at their old trysting place, Wicker Park. As Alex begins to confess to Luke, Matt heads to the icy park, but he's too late. He then races to the airport, where he bumps into Rebecca, who has come to pick him up from the business trip to China that he never went on. He confesses that he still loves someone else and can't marry her, so she leaves. Lisa is nearby on the phone, listening to Alex apologize and admit what she has done. Matt sees Lisa through the crowd and comes up behind her. She senses he's there, turns to kiss him, and so they are reunited.
- Josh Hartnett as Matt Simon
- Rose Byrne as Alex Denver
- Diane Kruger as Lisa Parish
- Matthew Lillard as Luke Stanford
- Jessica Paré as Rebecca Martin
- Christopher Cousins as Daniel Ristelli
Calling L'Appartement "among the most absorbing and ingeniously constructed thrillers in years," Variety noted that the film "was tapped for a Hollywood redo almost immediately," but then went into development hell with multiple directors (Joel Schumacher, Steven Spielberg, Joan Chen and Danny Cannon) and stars (Brendan Fraser, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Paul Walker) attached at different times.
Wicker Park has received generally negative reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 25% based on reviews from 134 critics, with an average rating of 4.4 out of 10.
Main criticisms are directed towards the film's convoluted plot and unconvincingly implausible coincidences. The Associated Press says, "the characters do incredibly stupid things simply for the sake of plot contrivance." The Arizona Republic calls it "a film with more unbelievable coincidences than a Henry Fielding novel, more plot holes than a Swiss cheese and populated with the stock characters of that Hollywood world, that cinematic parallel universe." McGuigan's direction is also criticised, with the Denver Rocky Mountain News saying he "seems to have invested more in the youth and glamour of his cast than in a plausible and exacting script", whereas The New York Times says "Directorial touches can't do much to salvage a project as poorly conceived as this one."
Though calling the film inferior to L'Appartement, Scott Foundas wrote in Variety that both Wicker Park's directing and screenplay were faithful to the French original, praising the way the film's second half "jumps back and forth in time and shifts between various characters’ points-of-view, until finally the disparate pieces of the pic’s fragmented puzzle come together." He added, "And while cynical viewers will no doubt suggest that pic’s entire mystery could be remedied with a single e-mail or cell phone call, the same might be said for Vertigo, and there’s something refreshing and timeless about the way Wicker Park allows its characters to rely on their own wits rather than those increasingly common technological aids."
The non-linear narrative received a mixed response. In a mixed review, The Boston Globe says, "The preview audience I saw it with hooted in disbelief at the outrageous bits, then happily dug in to see what would happen next." Conversely, The Washington Post says, "This is a smart movie, full of astonishing reverses and switchbacks, and it adroitly walks the thin line between too clever by half and not clever enough by three-quarters." In a favourable review, Roger Ebert says Wicker Park "works because the actors invest their scenes with what is, under the circumstances, astonishing emotional realism."
Filmed on a budget of $30 million, Wicker Park grossed only $21.6 million worldwide.
- Foundas, Scott (September 4, 2004). "Review: Wicker Park". Variety. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
- Canavese, Peter. "Wicker Park". Groucho Reviews. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
- Hartmann, Erica. "Wicker Park is a Wicked Ride". Silver Chips Online. Montgomery Blair High School. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
- "Wicker Park (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
- Kehr, Dave (September 3, 2004). "Eerie Shots, à la Vertigo, but No Sign of Stewart". The New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
- "Wicker Park". the-numbers.com. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
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