The Girl in the Park (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/12/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Impressively directed, sharply written and emotionally involving drama with a terrific central performance from Sigourney Weaver.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by playwright David Auburn (Proof), The Girl in the Park stars Sigourney Weaver as Julia, whose marriage falls apart following the disappearance of her young daughter Maggie in Central Park. Sixteen years later, Julia returns to New York and becomes convinced that a troubled young woman named Louise (Kate Bosworth) is actually her long-lost daughter.

Meanwhile, Julia's estranged son Chris (Alessandro Nivola) is attempting to reconnect with his mother in advance of his wedding, spurred on by his kindly bride-to-be, Celeste (Keri Russell). However, when Julia invites Louise to live with her, Chris' relationship with his mother becomes increasingly strained.

The Good
Sigourney Weaver is terrific as Julia, delivering a moving performance that has already generated some Oscar buzz. In addition, Kate Bosworth delivers her best performance to date as Louise, while there's strong support from Alessandro Nivola and from Elias Koteas as a work colleague whose tentative romance with Julia provides a welcome sweet note amongst all the fraught family stuff.

Auburn's cleverly structured script unfolds like a tantalising psychological mystery, maintaining a suspenseful atmosphere while making it heartbreakingly clear that the reason Julia never asks Louise about her past is because she doesn't want to come crashing back down to earth. Essentially, Julia is indulging a fantasy, but just how aware she is of that is what generates the suspense.

The Bad
That said, the film does have a couple of problems, such as the fact that Chris apparently ages twenty-five years in sixteen years or the fact that the script doesn't apply the same rigorous psychological logic to Louise's motives that it does to Julia's. In addition, the film runs out of steam before the end and the climax fails to deliver the emotional punch the story deserves.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Girl in the Park is worth seeing for Weaver's potentially Oscar-worthy performance, but it's slightly let down by an unsatisfactory final act.

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Content updated: 26/09/2018 10:35

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