Starring: Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew Lillard, Diana Kruger.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Based on l'Appartement, a screenplay by Gilles Mimouni
I think the theme of this movie could easily be, “Obsession could lead as easily to happiness as to despair.”
Probably some people found it hard to follow the non-linear storytelling – the in media res opening, flashbacks within flashbacks, multiple PoVs… Perhaps. I resisted the urge to bounce with glee in my seat every time the camera lens’ split into two. But it’s not just about the art of the film. The next best thing about this movie is that as complicated, and somewhat melodramatic the story gets, the characters are painfully sympathetic. I felt for Michael and Lisa and even poor little-seen Rebecca. (BTW, that last scene in the airport at the end when he’s looking for Lisa, just catches a glimpse of her and wham! Rebecca and all the dreaded normalcy she represents cuts right into Matthew’s line of sight – Brilliant). But I also felt for Luke and yes, Alex. (By the way, another mark of genius – no last names. See how I remember them all!) As always when I fall in love with something, I try to find kindred spirits. It was comforting to note that as per my usual fandoms, while the critics hated the movie with the wrath of a thousand dragons, most of the fans loved it. I wasn’t even alone in empathizing with Alex. She could so easily have been the one-dimensional villain of the story but at the end, you see that she’s very much a Michael – only the Michael on the other side of the coin, the one who’s object of obsession does not return his feelings. As Merovingian said in the Matrix Revolutions: “It is remarkable how similar the pattern of love is to the pattern of insanity.”
There are so many beautiful moments in this movie but these are some of my favorites:
- Broken. Matt in tears when Lisa – unwillingly – breaks his heart.
- The way Lisa and Alex meet. I think I mourned the lost friendship between these two women as much as the lost love. (Trivia: Both actresses starred in ‘Troy’ as foils for the big men strutting across the screen. This film must have been a welcome relief to them. :p)
- Alex and Luke The Morning After. She looked so happy in that moment, so happy even earlier when he tells her he loves her. Poor Alex. If only she had let go of her obsession over Matt, perhaps she would have naturally found love with Luke. Luke, by the way, is the closest thing to comic relief in the story but like every other character, he is so three-dimensional that you empathize with him as well.
- Cinderella in the shoe store. The actor really nailed the whole tongue-tied, bumbling, clumsy “He’s got it bad” infatuation. (And yes, it does make me grin from ear to ear that a full year before I even heard of Wicker Park, I had written a very similar scene to this in my very own non-linear story. :P)
- When Alex saw Matthew. It was sadly thrilling to realize that it was her camera and her own crush-like actions – taking the camera to his shop so she could fudge a reason to meet him was a direct parallel to him following Lisa to the shoe shop and pretending to work there – that led to him falling for her friend.
- The final reunion scene. As I said earlier, bringing Rebecca into the movie at that moment was perfect. And that final moment when he just sits behind her, too overwhelmed to even speak… And the soundtrack playing in the back: ‘Nobody said it’d be easy… Nobody said it’d be this hard…’
Summary: If you like linear storytelling, 21st technological realism, and down-to-earth lack of sentimentality, this movie may not be for you. But if you’re someone like me, you’ll watch this movie to the end, sniffing back the tears, and spend the whole weekend not writing your nano story daydreaming about the sheer beauty of the story.