You get a strong feel for the lossy nature of the Hollywood copying process when you compare Wicker Park with the French original. The underlying symbolic narrative (mainly of fire and mirrors) has gone. So have the suggestions of lesbian fixation and supernatural mystery that surround Romane Bohringer's Alice.
The conceit of Alice's diary also failed to make it through the Hollywood funnel. We can imagine that it gave Max a clear account of everything that had happened, but of course we can't know for sure. Alice might have filled it with yet more lies.
There's another conversation we see (but can't hear) from outside the cafe whose content is similarly implicit - Paul McGuigan's film makes the dialogue explicit thereby sacrificing yet another subtlety. The lovemaking scene between Max and Lisa in the original has a melodramatic quality, underscored by the storm outside. Afterwards we see Alice leaning out of the window wearing Max's shirt, thinking. It's these kind of little details that leave an audience thinking too.
The cafe waiter doesn't get a tip for his troubles in L'Appartement - and he's a much more memorable characterisation in his own right.
In Wicker Park Matt and Lisa are meant to be. The rest of the plot is an elaborate series of obstacles that their love must overcome. In L'Appartement the constancy of fate and the inconstancy of man are well-matched. The situation allows Max to contemplate three alternative versions of his destiny - the dull, safe executive life complete with dull, safe wife, the domestic bliss he might have shared with Lisa but for Alice's interventions, and the slightly unbalanced existence he could have if he throws in his lot with Alice. None of these is really more meant to be than the others.
Bellucci's Lisa is more than the adorable object of romantic fate. She clearly possesses a bigger personality than the equally commitment-phobic Max, and Mimouni shades the circumstances of her end, by hinting at her kept-woman status. There's something Mafioso-like about her lover Daniel, a man she describes as her perfect match, because "he's rich, he's handsome and he's married".
The chronology of L'Appartement is beyond complicated, but Mimouni handled the transition from the 'present' timeline to the flashbacks skillfully and creatively. Wicker Park felt more like an episode of Lost.
Wicker Park changes or reverses a number of important details. It's Matt not Lucien that breaks the mirror in the compact. We see Alex removing her make-up mask, whereas we saw Alice putting it on. Alex's feet are too small, not too big for the shoes that Matt gives her.
The lovemaking scene between Max and Lisa in the original has a melodramatic quality, enhanced by the thunder and lightening outside. Aftwerwards we see Alice leaning out of the window wearing Max's shirt, thinking. It's these kind of little details that make the audience think too.
The most glaring weakness in L'Appartement is the way that both Daniel and Max are able to park their cars directly outside Lisa's appartment. Anybody that has driven around Paris will know how much suspension of disbelief is required for this. What is the significance of Alice leaving behind her suitcase at the end? It's an ambivalent enough conclusion as it is, without having to worry about that one orphaned detail.
Why hasn't Mimouni made another film since?