Stalker movies seldom offer anything other than waiting for the axe to fall, but thanks to screenwriter Brandon Boyce’s adaptation of Frenchman Gilles Mimouni’s L'Apartement, Wicker Park is an entertaining psychological drama.
The story spins from present to past before we learn that Matthew (Josh Harnett), a businessman engaged to the boss’s daughter and about to depart for a trip to China, was a photo shop clerk a few years back and had fallen hopelessly in love with a girl he saw on the street. Matthew followed Lisa (Diane Kruger) to dance classes until he got the nerve to introduce himself, and in no time at all the two were inseparable. Through a strange twist of fate, Diane just disappeared one day. Matthew never heard from her again, or really got over her.
While having a business luncheon in a Chicago restaurant with his fiancée and her father, Matthew spies Lisa fleeing out the door. The sight of her stirs deep-seated feelings and instead of boarding the plane for China, he goes in search of Lisa and the mystery surrounding her disappearance.
Director Paul McGuigan (The Reckoning) infuses his own vision into this intriguing story and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Movies that use a back and forth style of telling a story -- such as Memento or 21 Grams -- are usually so tedious that I lose complete interest in them. However, even though Wicker Park is told in a non-linear way, only small drabs at a time are revealed, so the plot keeps explaining itself and making sense as it goes along. And each revelation offers more intrigue.
The heart of the movie is a love story. What happens when you lose the love of your life and have a chance to find that person again? Do you give up your life as it is now? These are the decisions that Matthew faces, and McGuigan couldn’t have found a better actor to portray Matthew then dark, tall and handsome Josh Harnett.
I’m frequently amused when I remember one of Harnett’s first movies, Here on Earth, in which he played a young romantic lead. While I was preparing a magazine piece on Harnett with an intended cover of him, his publicist stated, “We don’t want him featured as a romantic; that’s not the kind of films he’s going to make.”
Either Hartnett’s publicist changed or someone talked some sense into the young actor, for his romantic leads in Pearl Harbor and 40 Days and 40 Nights, along with his upcoming film (Mozart and the Whale) about two people in love, prove Harnett has what it takes in the sizzle department.
Diane Kruger fills in nicely as the other half of the romantic couple. Although she isn’t a well-known Hollywood name yet, her debut in Troy as the woman whose face launched a thousand ships and her enjoyable portrayal as Lisa here should certainly turn a lot more heads than just Matthew’s. Matthew Lillard and Rose Byrne round out the cast of Wicker Park.
This is a great date movie. Handholding can get quite serious during the film’s many intense scenes.
(Released by MGM and rated “PG-13” for sexuality and language.)