Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
1

Movies Review

The Girl In The Park

By
The Girl In The Park
Released on Friday, Dec 5 2008

Director: David Auburn
Screenwriters: David Auburn
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Kate Bosworth, Alessandro Nivola, Keri Russell, David Rasche, Elias Koteas
Running Time: 110 mins
Certificate: 15

From Alien to The Ice Storm, directors have frequently capitalised on Sigourney Weaver's hard-edged looks and towering poise. In this intense drama, playwright-turned-filmmaker David Auburn (who adapted his own Tony-winning play Proof in 2005) does it with varying degrees of success. He casts her as Julia, a mother struggling to come to terms with the kidnap of her three-year-old daughter. Fifteen years later, the trauma has effectively turned Julia to stone, but cracks begin to appear as a deep well of maternal love rises up in her prompted by a chance meeting with the titular girl in the park (Kate Bosworth).

It is in that same park, Central Park in New York, that Julia's three-year-old daughter Maggie was snatched from under her nose. In the interim, her marriage has broken down and the relationship she has with her son Chris (Alessandro Nivola) has become tenuous. Her disaffection is obvious when she turns up at his engagement party only to be greeted with jaw-gaping surprise and a lot of nervous shrugging. Auburn immediately creates a sense of unease, portraying a world slightly off-kilter where Julia doesn't fit, and it warms us to her despite the outward coldness. Her latent reserves of compassion are brought to the fore soon afterwards when she comes to the aid of a scruffy young shoplifter, Louise.

It's an unusually layered performance from Bosworth, who plays Louise like a modern-day Holly Golightly (from Breakfast At Tiffany's). Although she favours the shabby chic look, she too is an out-of-towner, seducing men with her charms and all the while hiding a tangle of messy emotions underneath. In that way, Louise and Julia are kindred spirits, but the girl is just a little more ruthless. At first she sees Julia as an easy target, scamming her out of $700 with a sob story about wanting to get home. When Julia later spots her in a bar, she causes an ugly scene and Chris begins to suspect that his old mum has finally lost her marbles. There are moments like this which descend too sharply into hysteria; thankfully Weaver's inherent grace means the film doesn't lapse fully into soggy melodrama.

The bar scene is also the point at which Auburn brings an element of the psychological thriller. Louise moves in with Julia but she remains an enigmatic figure and the possibility that she might be her long-lost daughter begins to creep in. What is more intriguing is the way Julia handles this notion. She becomes increasingly possessive and that breeds more tension. That awkward, slightly perverse dynamic is a little reminiscent of Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett in Notes On A Scandal except that this film isn't as tightly focussed. Auburn is tempted towards overcooking the drama again in a scene where Julia brings Louise to dinner with her soon-to-be in-laws. And again, Weaver's naturally steely backbone anchors the film in these choppy waters. At the end, it doesn't matter whether Louise is Julia's real daughter or not; this is really a film about a woman walking a fine line between self-indulgence and insanity, and through it all, it is difficult to turn away.



> What do you think of the movie? Share your views

You May Like

Comments

Loading...