It's not easy being Josh Hartnett. You're incredibly handsome, you have eyebrows that look like they're knitting a sweater whenever a moral dilemma or an SAT question involving math crosses their furry path. And in Wicker Park, the quandary is especially tough. Seems Josh's magnetism has attracted three incredibly beautiful girls who all want him.
What to do. What to do.
The problem is that Josh only loves one of them, and one of them may be manipulating whom he sees and where he goes.
No, it's not his travel agent.
But for a guy who is supposed to get on a plane and fly to China on business, Josh is surprisingly geocentric. That's because on the day he's to leave town, he catches sight of "her," the love of his life, who vanished mysteriously years ago. And now he must stay in Chicago and find out if it is she, and solve the biggest mystery of all:
How could she dump such a great looking guy?
What unfolds is less thriller than romantic whodunit told in various flashbacks, and from many points of view, creating a kind of Rashomon for the Starbucks set. Based on the French film L'Appartement, and feeling very French in its free form plotting and "latte, tea or me" morality, it is in fact a story of love lost. And its theme is intriguing. Directed by Paul McGuigan (Gangster No.1), its accent is on the visual, and on pretty people doing pretty awful things.
At the center of what must be filmdom's very first Love Pentagon is Diane Kruger as "Lisa" the girl who got away. She's a dancer. Natch. (Aren't they all?) And when Josh lays eyes on her two years before the movie starts, it is love at first plié. Their romance blossoms, and they are about to move in together when she vanishes. A red herring that Lisa may be involved in an Internet millionaire's death is just that, because the real bad guy is something much less mysterious, and as old as the hills: jealousy and obsession.
The other stunningly beautiful woman in this tale is Jessica Paré as Josh's fiancée. She not only adores him and has the world's cutest overbite, but is also sister to Josh's boss. Josh is a photographer and seems to have landed some gig where his photographic skills have made him the guy to send to China to close a big business deal. Huh!? Well, if you're Josh Hartnett, maybe. But this is aimed at the crowd who imagines that being a dancer or photographer qualifies one to be a highly paid international jet setter, so why disturb the cosmos with an employment forecast? Whatever his actual job description, I kept thinking: Marry the girl with the overbite! What is wrong with her? Well, from the alpaca muffler Josh's eyebrows are weaving, Josh doesn't love her.
Instead Josh throws it all away to untangle the mystery, coming across yet another babe, Rose Byrne: The other other woman. The good news is: Rose is sexy and kind and great in bed and loves him. The bad news is: She's a pathological liar with an obsessive streak that makes Sean Young look like Heidi.
Completing the swinger's list is Mathew Lillard (best known for his role as "Shaggy" in David Mamet's Scooby-Doo) as Josh's best friend. And here's where we know this movie is fiction: of the two best buddies, Josh is the insecure one. Mathew however is the type of buddy you want to have. He owns a woman's shoe store, and for anyone who's ever watched Sex In The City, you know what a plus that is. It's a busy little pump house too, and between it and a Chicago restaurant they all frequent, these two establishments get more foot traffic than the Little Rock Wal-Mart.
Unraveling who is sleeping with whom becomes the fun of figuring out what this movie boils down to, and the piecing together of flashbacks to explain who was where when, are pleasantly satisfying. Oh! You keep thinking. That's who that was standing behind the cash register. That's who made that phone call! And by the end, when the mystery is solved and everyone gets a penicillin shot, having slept with someone they shouldn't, this French-ish bedroom drama comes full Pentagon. Finally in the airport where he's supposed to be, Josh sees "the one" he's really supposed to be with: