The Girl in the Park David Auburn

The Girl in the Park David Auburn
Fifteen years after losing her three-year-old daughter in a public park, a permanently grieving Julia Sandburg (Sigourney Weaver) develops a strange fixation and bond with a wayward young woman named Louise (Kate Bosworth), ignoring the needs of her newly engaged son Chris (Alessandro Nivola) and his affable fiancée Celeste (Keri Russell). It sounds like a quaint, performance-based Deep End of the Ocean, doesn't it? To both its credit and detriment, The Girl in the Park isn't interested in glib resolutions or convoluted mysteries, instead expanding on human frailty through delusion, manipulation and cyclic patterns of damaging behaviour. While this balance between melodrama and psychological thriller adds freshness and dimension to an otherwise rote meditation on grieving, David Auburn's toneless, meandering direction leaves the material sitting there like stagnant water. We have Julia, a visibly unstable and unpredictable grieving woman, opening her home and life to a homeless con artist that she hopes is her daughter. Given the shaky foundations of their relationship and relatively impenetrable character portrayals from both actresses, tension seems appropriate, but instead we get a flat visualization of multiple talking head scenarios with a constant TV movie soundtrack. It leaves the audience seeing a potential in the film that's never fulfilled. This isn't to indicate that The Girl in the Park is a train wreck, as there is a sense of intrigue and capriciousness to the material that keeps things alive, but a more focused vision would easily have made it compelling. Critics have also been quick to dismiss Weaver's performance as borderline caricature, given her quiet, conversational avoidance with her son and manic, joyous transformation when Bosworth plays the daughterly role. However, there is intelligence in her character being handled as a potential villain, playing with audience identification. It's just a shame the film didn't follow her, even if there was intent. No supplements are included with the DVD. (E1)