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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony

Lost in imitation

By Daneille Shaw

“Wicker Park”MGM PicturesDirected by Paul McGuiganStarring Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew LillardPG-13Opens 09/03

Two out of five stars

There’s a fine line between love and obsession. At least that’s what “Wicker Park,” starring Josh Hartnett (40 Days, 40 Nights), Matthew Lilliard (SLC Punk) and Rose Byrne (Troy), wants you to believe. The film weaves a tangled web of lies and misapprehensions, all told from various characters’ memories. It starts with Matt (Hartnett) attempting to get ready to propose to his girlfriend and go on a business trip to China. Before his flight, he catches sight of Lisa (Diane Kruger), the girl who mysteriously vanished from his life two years ago, breaking his heart. Such is the setup. Intrigued?

Then go ahead, because intrigue is all you’re really going to get from “Wicker Park.” The story premise is decent, but the execution is lukewarm and mediocre at best. The entire production team seemed to take a hint from those kids everyone meets in gen eds, whose ambitions of being “poetic” end up just being a toss-off for style-something akin to “artsy.” Almost every camera angle was in a constant state of distortion to the point of being obnoxious-even more so when you let the fact that this is supposed to convey emotion (somehow) sink in. The single worst and most easily laughable moment of the film comes early, as a choppy, direct zoom in on Hartnett’s face is used to convey the horror of the moment. There shouldn’t even be an attempt at giving an excuse.

The acting is consistent and legitimate, but with a script so mind-numbingly clich and dull, director Paul McGuigan fails to find a pace or rhythm that works for more than two or three minutes in the film. Besides, no actor should be forced to try and compensate for material so clearly written for the 12-16 year old girls’ demographic, while trying to appear as if 20-somethings (whom the movie is about) should be titillated.

This cast tries, and doesn’t do too bad on their part. However, with dramatic bravado like, “Love makes you do crazy things,” there isn’t much room for improvement. The film’s best performance comes from Lillard as Luke, the token, comedic sidekick to Hartnett’s lovelorn part-stalker, part-kicked puppy dog Matt. But once again, even Lillard’s presence totally disrupts the flow of the film-is this even a movie that demands comic relief in the middle of it? Seemingly heartfelt lines shouldn’t be making an audience laugh either, but…well, you know how it goes by now. When a screening of a labeled “romantic thriller” looks more like a screening of Mystery Science Theater 3000, something has clearly gone awry.

Such is the awkward nature of this film. None of the characters seem to have a good reason to care about one another. The relationships are underdeveloped, and considering how slow the film felt, one would assume these things could be explained. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. “Wicker Park” was a blind date for its cast and audience: neither knew what to expect, nobody was in tune and the entire time spent together was thick with awkward tensions, boring and discomforting.

But as a date movie, where the movie isn’t what’s important, “Wicker Park” works fine. Chock full of dragging moments, there’s opportunity galore to make that move that might be too obvious outside the theater. Long live the yawn/stretch.

Danielle Shaw

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