Wicker Park — Though not exactly a crime film, it is a mystery. Adapted from the French original, L’Appartement. We follow Josh Hartnett as he bounces around from his wife-to-be, his former lover and an interloper. Flashbacks are dizzying as we are theoretically given all the pieces we need to figure out what’s going on. It’s fascinating and frustrating, if not altogether fulfilling to watch. In the end it is a somewhat clever exercise. Hartnett is good, sexy and vulnerable. Rose Byrne is sexy and loony and Diane Kruger is lovely and cool, just short of cold. Paul McGuigan directed this 2004 film with critics not necessarily fully on board. I suspect those watching at home will find it entertaining enough, having not spent the going rate for in-theater viewing. Wicker Park is officially set in Chicago, where there is a Wicker Park. But you will be forgiven if you recognize a glimpse or two of Montreal.
Jack Ryan, Shadow Patriot — Also sporting young and pretty main characters, this 2014 release was a pleasant surprise. Not a big fan of movies based on Tom Clancy novels despite the usually excellent plotting. However, this one had a touch of warmth as well as all the hallmarks of a thriller. It is a solid and under rated film starring Chris Pine and Keira Knightly. It also has strong supporting performances by Kevin Costner and particularly Kenneth Branagh, who also directed. Given the current visibility given to Russia’s increasing involvement in U.S. and world affairs, including Vladimir Putin’s keen interest in covert and overt aggression, the film is also timely. Ryan is embroiled in a Soviet plot to destroy the U.S. economy through stock market manipulation and terrorism.
Tonight’s double feature is a perfect compromise for those couples whose preferences are split between romance and action thrillers. I think the drink to accompany the entertainment should be wine. A sweet white for the first and a hearty red for the second. (I’d also advise watching Wicker park first, and not just because of the wine selection.) For the non-imbibers, try fruit-infused sparkling water.