Wicker Park

Starring Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne and Diane Kruger. Directed by Paul McGuigan.
Running Time: 114 minutes
Rated: Rated M

Matthew (Hartnett) was once in love with a rising ballet star named Lisa (Kruger). Two years on, Matthew is engaged to be married to Rebecca (Jessica Para) when Lisa re-enters his life. It throws his commitment to Rebecca into turmoil. Lisa's accidental friend Alex (Byrne) is the go-between Matthew and Lisa, and it becomes clear that she's playing both sides for her own ends.

Wicker Park is the name of a suburb in Chicago within which there is a village green where Lisa and Matthew meet, or don't meet as the case regularly is.

This film has a nonlinear narrative. It moves between the two-year-old back-story and the present drama with great ease and few queues. It takes a while to guess what's going on, but this is one of the more interesting features in the film.

Wicker Park is a dressed up love triangle and buddy film. It relies far too heavily on accidents of fate and near misses for us to take it seriously. In the process, the several deliberate and staged contrivances in the story are exasperating.

Furthermore, for us to care about Matthew and his love life, he needs to be a much nicer guy than we see on the screen. In Wicker Park Matt is a stalker who ends up being stalked, he dumps a perfectly decent fiancé with patriarchal ease, and he relies on an emotionally unstable woman as the traffic director of his love life. I couldn't figure out why, in age of mobile phones, Matthew didn't just call Lisa directly.

There are other curiosities too, like, when and how did Lisa moved out of her dingy flat into an expensive Chicago penthouse.

The original French version of this film had a tighter script and was a more believable story. But maybe the French can pull off this type of film in such away that leaves this American version looking like a very poor cousin indeed.

Fr Richard Leonard is director of the Australian Catholic film office.