The trailers for Wicker Park promised an atmospheric journey of mistaken identity, stalking, foul play, perhaps even the supernatural. The return on that promise is little more than handsomely shot tedium. A close relative of such undistinguished B-movies as Abandon (2002) and Swimfan (2002), Wicker Park takes the subject of dangerous infatuation and renders it mundane. Fatally, Brandon Boyce and Gilles Mimouni's characters are neither likeable nor particularly unlikable; in trying to give everyone a fair shake, they've landed in a tepid middle ground that is just plain boring. The supposedly unbalanced, obsessive Alex (Rose Byrne) is better at whimpering than playing dark and disturbed, and it's hard to sympathize with the hero (Josh Hartnett), because his relationship with the disappeared Lisa (Diane Kruger) never goes deeper than the flesh. This makes it hard to view them as tragically separated soul mates, a condition the film relies on for its tone of melancholic urgency. (Plus, the nonlinear chronology tends to obscure how much time the characters have spent apart, further weakening the viewer's investment). More meddlesome than unsettling, Alex tries to drive them apart through such nefarious methods as failing to pass on phone messages. With events so comically small in scale, the repeating, doubling-back narrative structure just feels like wasted technique. Also wasted: the characters of Matthew's buddy and his fiancée, who have zero narrative function and are dismissed unceremoniously. Director Paul McGuigan does have an eye for framing and visual flare, but even as a moving painting, Wicker Park is pretty devoid.
by Derek Armstrong review