The Girl in the Park ***
Directed by David Auburn
David Auburn's directing debut "The Girl in the Park" could have been one of two things-it could have been a nicely acted, well written, fresh indie story, and a great surprise. Or it could have been a mess, something you see once and then never see again. Oddly enough, at Tribeca Film Festival this year I saw several films that I feel I will never see again-minor indie films with quite cast. But we'll see. Anyway, "The Girl in the Park" ended up being quite the powerful film-interesting, well acted, and like the Danish film "To Love Someone" it ended up taking a story that isn't the most original, but it ended up being very well done.
Starring Sigourney Weaver, an actress that I could usually take or leave, she plays Julia Sandberg. Sixteen years ago she lived in New York with her husband and her son and daughter. She is making a small name for herself singing in a local nightclub, and she is quite the happy woman. And then her young daughter, Maggie, ends up going missing in the park, something that never quite left her, even years later. She is divorced and her son and her have a rocky relationship, but her future daughter in law will make sure that she has a relationship with her. And then she meets Louise, played by Kate Bosworth, and takes her under her wing. Louise has no home and sleeps with a different guy every night, and after lying to Julia and having her give her money, she says sorry and Julia begins to get that maternal instinct kicking in. This life change is obvious to everyone, especially her son who becomes increasingly curious about who Louise is, and Julia may become convinced that Louise is really her missing daughter, especially as most of the story is very much the same.
Weaver especially is quite good here, and she never does go over the top with the more drama scenes. Pretty much everything worked in sync here. Aubern does quite a good job with the script, and he tells a simple story with quite complex characters, and his director style is not too showy, as if he really knows that he has a lot to learn about the trade. What I liked most about the movie was that it kept you guessing-is Louise really Julia's daughter? Is she not? They throw in some clues here and there, but then they counter them with more clues that could change things. But in the end it doesn't matter if Lousie is Julia's daughter or not. What matters is that the two of them need one another-Julia needs to know what it feels like to be a mother, in some form or the other, and Louise needs someone real to take care of her, away from the foster families of the past. And this is the peace that comes out in "The Girl in the Park," a quite poignant and touching film.