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Awesome: 9.76%
Worth A Look: 4.88%
Just Average: 24.39%
Pretty Crappy: 24.39%

3 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Wicker Park
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by Robert Flaxman

"So, to recap: Guy stalkers good, girl stalkers bad."
1 stars

Imagine, if you will, that the film Memento was made with Leonard Shelby as a crack addict investigating the theft of his wifeís purse. If you can picture that, youíre on your way to deciphering the only real mystery in the Josh Hartnett abomination Wicker Park, which is, ďJust how did this movie get to be this terrible?Ē

Thereís a lot of time shifting in Wicker Park, which makes the Memento reference immediately applicable, but what Iím getting at here is the idea of making a film that tries to be clever and interesting but has unsympathetic characters and a painfully banal story. Thatís really what makes the movie so bad Ė itís an awful whole equivalent to the sum of its terrible parts.

The film revolves around Matt (Hartnett) and his obsession with lost love Lisa (Diane Kruger). Our first flashback depicts their meet-cute, at least if you consider creepy stalking to be adorable. Screenwriter Brandon Boyce (and Gilles Mimouni, who wrote and directed the French film LíAppartement on which this film was based) evidently thinks that women find stalking to be sweetly endearing, as opposed to a good reason to whip out the mace. Can there be another explanation for Lisaís behavior?

After calling Matt out on his stalker lifestyle, Lisa still invites him for coffee and sleeps with him that very night. Iíve heard of love at first sight, but this film gives hope to potential stalkers, which really canít be considered a good thing. The only positive is that nobody in the film acts the way an actual human being might, so the acceptance of stalking could still be called unacceptable in that broader context.

Matt gets the faintest glimpse of Lisa in the present day, and immediately drops everything in a desperate quest to reconnect with her. Really? They dated for two months, two years before the filmís most current events. Are there actually people who would dump their soon-to-be fiancťe Ė and throw away their career by completely blowing off an important business trip Ė just to go on a mad search for an ex-girlfriend? Okay, I guess John Cusack in Serendipity, but outside the world of movies, itís a pretty small set.

Then it turns out that Matt has a stalker of his very own. Itís Alex (Rose Byrne), who lived across the way from Lisa when Matt was dating her. Alex actually ends up pretending to be Lisa, as though Matt was going to be confused (Alex and Lisa donít even have the same hair color). The film seems to treat these things as big surprises, but the trailer had no problem giving them away, although when the plot is as convoluted and desperate to play gotcha as it is here, itís tough to make a trailer, or summarize the plot at all, without revealing at least something that the film considers a surprise.

That would be a bigger deal if the film werenít utterly predictable. Somehow Wicker Park has balanced the feats of being both endlessly convoluted and completely obvious. The most shocking thing about the film is that it apparently expects the viewer to seriously buy into its more ludicrous plot points, which are myriad. Alexís actions are at best laughable Ė sometimes they donít even make a lick of sense. The inability of Matt to get in contact with Lisa is just stupefying Ė twenty-somethings in the year 2004 donít have instant messaging? What about e-mail? The ten-second semi-explanation near the filmís end of how they apparently werenít able to get each other on the phone is hardly sufficient to plug that plot hole.

All this might not be quite so galling if the film werenít so convinced of its own cleverness and general impenetrability. Explanations go on far too long, as director Paul McGuigan clearly doesnít realize that the stuff heís breaking down wasnít that difficult to figure out in the first place. The editing is clearly intended to be edgy, but it just looks like the work of someone who had never edited on a computer before and thought all the new effects were really cool. The way time jumps back and forth Ė and how hours seem to have very little meaning, even in the present Ė is probably supposed to be hip, but sometimes itís just baffling.

And all this is put in service of what? A plot whose ďtwistsĒ could be resolved if any of the protagonists used AOL. Itís not only boring, itís monumentally misogynist Ė in Wicker Parkís world, male stalkers are every womanís dream! (Actually, Lisa has an ex-boyfriend who is shown not to leave her alone, which scares herÖ but this plot is mostly glossed over. Youíd think after that experience that she might be a little hesitant to start dating a guy who she met because he stalked her, but I guess itís okay because Josh Hartnett seems non-threatening.) Furthermore, if a man stalks a woman, itís cute, but if a woman stalks a man, itís utterly creepy and scary and oh my god this woman must be insane. The filmmakersí view of women is almost impossibly warped.

Bland, predictable, insulting, annoying, and unintelligent, Wicker Park is an infuriating mess. Simultaneously straightforward and confusing, its aspirations to be an interesting film are thwarted by its own mistakes at every turn. If this isnít the worst movie Iíll see all year, thereís something really bad lurking out there for me.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10671&reviewer=385
originally posted: 12/30/04 05:43:21
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User Comments

8/25/20 morris campbell not bad 3 stars
7/09/14 Tonya Jarrett I only like Josh Hartnett in this creepy little film that says slasher but isn't. 4 stars
1/04/14 new Flaxman's review is right on the money. He was able to put in to words my utter distain of 1 stars
3/02/10 engelheart just an awful movie 1 stars
7/25/07 cody a shocking unpredictable movie with soild performances. 3 stars
1/24/07 William Goss Slight story made initially intriguing by visual style, but is ultimately a letdown. 2 stars
1/20/07 Stephanie i actually thought this movie was amazing. hartnet is cute, and kruger is unbelievable. 5 stars
9/16/06 ad bad 1 stars
9/16/06 hector great movie to watch with your girl , you get it right? 5 stars
3/06/05 ad sucks 1 stars
1/31/05 april gupton so so 3 stars
1/17/05 Roy Smith Again No IMing, email, cell phones, or even mail? Pathetic Idiot Plot. 1 stars
1/01/05 MyGreenBed Muddled, confused, nonsensical...sure, but if I were a teen, I'd likely dig it a bit. 3 stars
12/31/04 Bobby da Squid When did stalking become sexy? Hartnett's more wooden than a cigar store Indian. 2 stars
12/30/04 Tjalda L. Schiel Hartnett is awful (like usual). The movie is awful. 1 stars
12/11/04 Monday Morning Josh Hartnett is only a slightly worse actor than Keanu Reeves. 1 stars
12/08/04 james ignore these guys reviews. Great despite having Josh as lead 5 stars
10/05/04 Chris Afraid it's a waste of time, when your stalking your stalker you know you need help. 2 stars
10/04/04 Taylor Fladgate Film gets stronger as the plot is revealed. 4 stars
9/23/04 slazbo atrocious. and I'm being gentle leaving it at that 2 stars
9/18/04 Christian lady this movie was laughable and completely unvbelievable 1 stars
9/15/04 Kristina Shave your UNIBROW Josh 1 stars
9/07/04 jcjs entertaining, puzzling but pans out, interesting, clever, nice acting 5 stars
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  03-Sep-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2004



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