There are few things I like better in this world than a good suspense film to keep me on the edge of my seat for a couple of hours. That’s what I thought I’d be getting in Wicker Park, the 2004 remake of a French film called L’Appartement. I’ve never seen the original, so can’t compare the two films, but I was basing my expectations on the relatively high rating Wicker Park currently has on IMDb.com. After watching the film, however, I’d have to say that it’s slightly overrated on that site.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Josh Hartnett stars as a young businessman named Matt who has recently come back to his hometown of Chicago after spending the previous two years in New York. While away, he met and fell in love with Rebecca (played by Jessica Paré). They’re now engaged, and Matt works for her family business, currently run by Rebecca’s brother.
While at a business dinner with Rebecca, her brother, and Chinese clients, Matt overhears a woman talking on the phone in the bathroom. He thinks it sounds suspiciously like Lisa (Diane Kruger), a former girlfriend who broke his heart a few years ago. Matt tries to see who’s talking, but only glimpses the back of a woman who is running out of the restaurant. She breaks a heel on her shoe, and we see that the pair she’s wearing are black with red soles — a detail that will be important later.
Matt finds “Lisa’s” hotel key card by the phone, and then becomes obsessed with tracking her down. He goes to the hotel, lets himself into the room, and finds objects that he believes are Lisa’s. Then, through a series of flashbacks, viewers get to see bits and pieces of Matt’s past relationship with Lisa: how they met, how they dated, and how they ended up torn apart without any real closure — thanks to the deliberate actions of another major player in the drama.
As the story unfolds, additional twists and complications are introduced, as well as a couple of important characters in Matt’s friend Luke (Matthew Lillard) and Lisa’s former roommate Alex (Rose Byrne). By the time the ending rolls around, everything is explained.
My Reaction: I had completely mixed reactions while watching Wicker Park, something that rarely happens. Usually I either like or hate a movie from beginning to end, so I was surprised by what I experienced here.
At first, Wicker Park started off extremely slowly. It took a bit of time for the main plot to develop and for viewers to figure out what was going on (because of the nonlinear storytelling). Once I grasped what was happening, however, things picked up considerably and I became more invested in Matt and Lisa’s saga. That’s not to say the middle of the movie was perfect, but it was pretty good.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like the ending at all, which ended up ruining most of the film for me. It was highly unrealistic that Rebecca, who had been with Matt for two years and was engaged to him, would simply accept a 30-second breakup speech from him in the middle of an airport after he had been acting erratically for the past few weeks. She didn’t try to press the issue at all or go somewhere quiet to talk about it some more. That didn’t ring true at all.
And then when Lisa finally saw Matt in the airport? Her face didn’t register the slightest hint of shock or surprise, despite the fact that two years had passed since she last saw him. An observer might have thought he had just gone to park the car or something and came right back.
Overall, Wicker Park had both strengths and weaknesses, but the weaknesses won out in the end. I give it 2 stars out of 5.