September 3, 2004

Room For Rent in Wicker Park

Frankly, watching Wicker Park the final installment in our summer long quest to see total crap on our Friday afternoons free [sigh, Labor Day approacheth] was a tad disappointing. Kind of like going to a party with the express purpose of getting off with a certain someone and discovering that he stayed home with the flu. It wasn't Josh Hartnett that Cinecultist was there to see, but rather one of our not-so-secret boyfriends Ben Gibbard.

See Ben wasn't to be in the movie, but one of his songs, a cover of the Phil Collins classic "Against All Odds" recorded with his side project, the Postal Service, was supposedly on the soundtrack. Alas, it is on the album but not in the film. Cinecultist thought we'd be making out rockin' out to Ben but all we got was Chris Martin. Sure, Gwynnie likes him but he's not our melancholy, melon-headed emo boy toy.

Instead we were forced to pull out the iPod and listen to the track at unnatural decibels all the way home. On single track repeat. (Thanks Scott!) Sorry 'bout that eardrums. What was it about Wicker Park that inspired such obsessive behavior? Fittingly, it's a movie about obsession, though a particular kind, one tinged with the anonymity of modern urban life and flavored by an interest in indie rock. It takes that fantasy of seeing someone on the street whom you fancy and who you play a little flirty flirt with as you go on your way, but expands it way out of proportion. We'll call it the F train syndrome. This movie takes that idle thought maybe I'll follow that Hottie McHotHotHot, we'll meet, fall in luv and then live happily ever after! and turns it into a full-blown, European art house-esque convoluted drama. He watches her, she loves him but that one also loves him and did we mention his friend's involved too?

Mostly CC found ourselves rooting for the underdog, the brunette chick played by Australian actress Rose Byrne. [Why's it the brunette who never gets the guy and is always portrayed as kinda psycho? Just askin'.] She's not all thriller, menacing stalker ready to kill him if she can't have him as implied by the perplexing trailer, but rather a shy girl who sees Josh Hartnett and doesn't have the guts to talk to him. Why are her obsessive following and voyeuristic tendencies not rewarded but Josh's are? Would it be too simplistic to see that the reason is because voyeurism in a guy is manly but in a girl is reereeree (insert miming of knife wielding)? It just seems a bit unfair.

We still find the behavior unsettling all around, this fascination with looking at rather than engaging with. The most romantic moment of the movie is meant to be when Josh's character Matt finally finds his Lisa, rushes to her side, and then stares at the back of her head. Until she realizes he's there and turns around of course, but that is a full minute or so later. It's the unreturned gaze that lingers and that means something. That smacks of a kind of cultishness that even the Cinecultist can't get behind.

Posted by karen at September 3, 2004 8:18 PM