Wicker Park (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner08/09/2004


Two out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

Not a patch on the original, this is basically the same story but completely stripped of atmosphere, style and tension – rent the French version instead.

Gilles Mimouni’s stylish thriller L’Appartement was an arthouse hit in 1996, when it made household names of both Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci. It seems strange that Hollywood has waited eight years to remake it and judging by the results, they probably shouldn’t have bothered.

Typical Lifeless American Remake

Despite the presence of Mimouni as executive producer, this suffers the same fate as most American remakes in that it systematically removes everything that made the original special in the first place. (See also: The Vanishing).

Josh Hartnett stars as Matthew, a city professional who puts both his engagement and an important business trip on hold after he spots a woman he believes to be his long-lost lover, Lisa (Diane Kruger) in a café. Obsessed with finding her, he frantically follows clues all over town, until he eventually meets another, more enigmatic Lisa (Rose Byrne). But is she all that she claims to be?

L’Appartement was an extremely stylish, sexy thriller with echoes of Vertigo and a Hitchcockian flourish that the Master Of Suspense himself would have been proud of. It was also brilliantly edited, smoothly switching between past and present and it capped the whole thing off with an ending that was as outrageously cheeky as it was audacious. The remake, typically, has none of these things and imposes a crowd-pleasing ‘Hollywood’ ending to add insult to injury.

Hartnett As Wooden As Ever

The cast don’t really match up either – Josh Hartnett is a good-looking actor but although he’s less constipated than usual, he’s still as wooden as ever and it’s hard to see what any of the women see in him. Similarly, Diane ‘Helen of Troy’ Kruger is a very poor substitute for Monica Bellucci. The film might have been better with a little sex in it (as the poster seems to promise) but a closer look at the 12A certificate knocks that idea on its head.

To be fair, the supporting cast emerge with a lot more credit, though it comes to something when Matthew Lillard (as Matthew’s wise-cracking best friend) is the best thing in your movie – the scenes come alive whenever he’s onscreen, which makes you wonder what the film would have been like if they’d swapped roles. Similarly, Rose Byrne gives an intriguingly dark, twisted performance, in which she constantly seems just one step away from full-blown mentalism.

Ultimately, then, the film is a disappointment, even to those who haven’t seen the original film: the twists are muted, the direction and editing lack style and the leads just aren’t up to the job. Rent the far superior L’Appartement instead.

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Wicker Park (12A)
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Content updated: 23/03/2019 21:33

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