Wicker Park
MGM // PG-13 // $29.99 // December 28, 2004
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted December 30, 2004
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Graphical Version
The Movie:

Although it is based upon the French film "L'Appartement", director Paul McGuigan's tale has been transplanted to the Chicago neighborhood of Wicker Park (there's some Chicago photography here, but most of the film looks to have been shot in Canada), an area well-known for its community of artists. The film focuses on Matthew (Josh Hartnett), an advertising exec who moves back to Chicago to work and persue a relationship with Rebecca (Canadian beauty Jessica Pare). However, he can't help but think about "the one that got away" - Lisa (Diane Kruger, not very good in "Troy"), who he broke up with after mis-understandings that happened in their relationship.

Matt begins to think that Lisa has entered his life again, and he proceeds to follow clues and stalk the possibility of her, despite clues largely leading to nothing but thin air. Meanwhile, his friend Luke (Matthew Lillard) has started dating Alex (Rose Byrne, good in "Troy"), who may have information of her own and provide a new romantic interest for Matthew. The picture spends most of its time, however, going through the relationship between Lisa and Matthew, trying to figure out how it went wrong and whatever happened to her. It's hard to explain it all, but it's best to leave it at that, as to not ruin any surprises.

The picture does have a lot more to juggle than one might expect from this kind of film, as the picture bounces back-and-forth in time, goes through a series of twists and has to establish a fair amount of characters. Although a bathroom break might lose a viewer, the twists and jumps are otherwise well-handled. Even though the puzzle is pieced together well, the 115-minute running time still does seem a tad long for the material. Technically, the film is great, as it offers a superb, haunting score by Cliff Martinez and beautiful, dream-like cinematography by Paul Sova.

The performances are pretty good too, which is a surprise. I've hated (hated) Hartnett in the past, but his everyguy, low-key performance works for the role. Lillard is pretty good here as well, offering a toned-down, effective performance. Byrne, Pare and Kruger also offer compelling efforts. The funny thing about "Wicker Park" is how the picture was promoted - trailers made it out to be some intense thriller when it's really a rather subdued, elegant and interesting mystery/drama.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Wicker Park" is presented by MGM in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is generally quite good, with only a couple of minor concerns that take away from the image. Sharpness and detail remained quite good, as the picture boasted solid definition and a consistent appearance, with no noticable veers into softness.

The picture only showed a couple of minor specks on the print used - otherwise it remained crisp and clean, with no other visible dirt or wear. Edge enhancement was not spotted at all during the presentation, nor were any instances of pixelation. The film's naturalistic color palette remained vivid and well-saturated, with no smearing. Flesh tones looked accurate and natural, while black level seemed solid.

SOUND: "Wicker Park" is presented by MGM in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack is fairly conventional, but it still remained pleasing. Surrounds really didn't get called upon to deliver much more than some minor ambience, but the remainder of the sound did get a nice spread across the front speakers. Audio quality was fine, as the score seemed crisp and clear, while dialogue seemed usually well-recorded, if a tad muffled. Little bass was present, as there was no real need for it.

EXTRAS: The main supplement is an audio commentary by director Paul McGuigan and actor Josh Hartnett. There's also 11 deleted scenes, a very brief gag reel, a music video for "Against All Odds", a photo gallery, soundtrack spot, the film's theatrical trailer and trailers for "Code 46", "Pieces of April", "Saved", "Angel of Death" and "Out Of Time".
Final Thoughts: "Wicker Park" does go a little long, but it's a well-constructed and enjoyable puzzle for the most part, with good performances. MGM's DVD offers good audio/video quality and a few solid supplements. Recommended.



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