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Recreating Wicker Park
Production on Wicker Park began in one of the coldest winters on record in Montreal, with temperatures frequently in minus degrees Celsius. The cold was consistent with weather that might be found in Chicago, but some of the architecture and public spaces – particularly the well-known park from which the Wicker Park area of the Windy City draws its name – needed to be created on the Montreal sets. McGuigan, known for his stylistic visions in The Acid House and Gangster No. 1, wanted a look that would reflect the youthful, edgy spirit of his characters.

He employed a creative team with whom he'd worked on multiple projects, and the creative collaboration produced a look that was very representative of modern day Chicago. Production designer Richard Bridgeland decorated three blocks of a Quebec suburb to capture the quirky quintessence of Wicker Park's trendy boutiques and cafes. He also designed the complex restaurant interior where Matthew thinks he sees Lisa with a liberal use of glass reflections.

"Part of the difficulty in designing this film was that it had an inherent, very detailed geography,” explains Bridgeland. "There were scenes in which the setting was actually part of the drama, and certainly part of the illusion we needed to maintain. For example, there are two apartments that face each other across an exterior courtyard and you have to be able to see across into each of the apartments. There are also two staircases that face each other on either side of the interior of the apartment. And, of course, there had to be strategically placed reflective surfaces in a great many of the sets.” The recurring use of mirrors – a thematic device – made camera work a bit more tricky for director of photography Peter Sova, but he skillfully wove those into the fabric of his frames.

The film ultimately moved on to the real city of Chicago where one of the principal locations was the world famous Drake Hotel. The production also shot under the El tracks and along the main street of the real Wicker Park neighborhood in which the drama takes place.

Everyone involved in the project enjoyed this real glimpse of Chicago and the opportunity to pledge fidelity to the actual locations that inspired the title.


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