A blog by Patrick Crozier

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September 20, 2004

Film review: Wicker Park

This is a remake of l'Appartement one of my favourite films of all time. I have been waiting a year to see it - occasionally checking into IMDB to watch its progress. It really is quite astonishing how long it takes a completed movie to make it to the screen.

And once I knew it was out I have been trying desperately to avoid finding out anything about it. My theory is that movies are much more enjoyable if you have no idea what to expect. Anyway, tonight (in an almost completely empty theatre in Kingston) was the night.

So, how was it? Unfortunately, it is astonishingly difficult for me to comment. I know the plot of the original too well and Wicker Park sticks to it very closely. Result: I spent my whole time comparing the two - so I will have come away with a completely different impression from any ordinary cinema goer.

My guess? It's probably not a bad movie. But the original had more style. It had better actors - with the notable exception of the Alice/Alex role - Rose Byrne is superb. The greatest sadness is that there is no chemistry between Kruger and Hartnett whereas there was stacks between Bellucci and Cassel. They got married in real life. Matthew Lillard is a casting disaster. Had they kept closer to the script of the original that disaster might have been tempered by the sight of Lillard being blown clean through a plate glass window. But no.

The original made use of different hairstyles to alert the viewer to whether he was watching a flashback or not. For some reason they don't do it here. Which was a shame.

I think it shows how difficult it is to do remakes. Great films (who knows, great art generally) are the coming together of all sorts of things at the right place and the right time: the script, the director, the actors, the music etc.

However, that is not to say it is not without its plus points. It has a happier ending. It did explain some of the more obscure aspects of the plot of the original that I missed even after a fifth viewing.

Mark Steyn reviewed it. Steyn is critical of Hartnett et al's ignorance of the technology. Mark, it's a movie. It's not real. You have to suspend your disbelief.

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Brian's Culture Blog on October 22, 2004

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