I suppose the happy ending was always a given, but it sits as uncomfortably with Gilles Mimouni's twisty tale as it would with Hitchcock's Vertigo, to which it was something of a tribute. As with Vanilla Sky, these kind of "faithful" American transpositions of European films leave you wondering what it was that so affected you when you first saw the original, because it must have hit an iceberg and sunk midway across the Atlantic.
Yet many of us that saw and enjoyed L'appartment will probably have felt a twinge of disappointment when that nice Parisian pad and its beautiful occupant were engulfed in flames shortly before the end. So perhaps Scottish director Paul McGuigan's re-treading of this baroque plotline sets out to give us the upbeat conclusion we all would have wanted. Except that ironically it doesn't really- because if in the original we craved a cathartic collision between Max and Lisa, here we're not really given enough reasons to care. If anything sympathies will tend towards Rose Byrne's Alex, by far the strongest and most appealing character in the remake, so we end up feeling a bit disappointed yet again. An interesting case of ambiguity, albeit accidental, triumphing over the imposition of closure.
It took me three viewings of L'appartment to realise that it was essentially telling the tale of Romane Bohringer's brittle loon Alice, a fact which Mimouni cleverly disguised with by deploying the searing sensuality of Monica Bellucci and by making Max a bit of a scoundrel at heart. The trick was to make his male audience-members as obsessed with the lost feminine ideal as Max was. Josh Hartnett's attempt to duplicate the "her eyes" speech falls completely flat, A) because he can't act, and B) because Diane Kruger has already demonstrated conclusively that she's no Helen of Troy. Wicker Park's target market is clearly more female, so the schemer has to come unstuck and Matt can't really be firmly pre-engaged to a third girl before the whole run around kicks off.
Back in the mid-nineties we didn't care all that much that mobile phones would have solved the whole problem either.