Film Review: The Girl in the Park

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Marrakech International Film Festival

MARRAKECH, Morocco -- Playwright David Auburn's debut feature, "The Girl in the Park" is icing without cake. A little stiff, a little stagy, it has been scripted rather unintelligently. Though well pace, the film is often unbelievable, its cast seemingly wasted on a story that is not even novel.

Sigourney Weaver's Julia is a jazz singer who loses her three-year-old child, Maggie, in a New York park. In those mere moments when Julia's attention is distracted, the girl disappears along with the crowds of mothers and children, turning the park into a desolate place. In fact, a hysterical Julia finds that there is no one, except a strolling couple, to even ask about her child.

It is never clear what happened to Maggie, but 16 years later the still grieving Julia has turned her back on her husband Dough (David Rasche), son Chris (Alessandro Nivola) and music. She is a bank executive, and when she appears for Chris' engagement to pregnant Celeste (Keri Russell), the family is surprised. The surprise turns into shock when Julia helps a stranger, Louise (Kate Bosworth), avoid arrest when she is caught shoplifting a pair of dark glasses. Now why would Julia want to do that?

In that brief second she sees Louise for the first time at the shop, she is reminded of her daughter! Louise takes advantage of this as Julia's fragile veneer begins to crack. More ludicrous things follow: Julia apes some of the girl's wild ways, gets into a physical bout with her and tries being overtly friendly with children in the park where Maggie had vanished, landing herself in police custody.

The movie fails to connect emotionally, Weaver's caricatured performance not helping matters. Bosworth tries her best as the street-smart girl who cheats and worms her way into the older woman's psyche, but the character is much too exaggerated. Overlighting adds to the rather dismal effort.

Production companies: Furst Films, Open Pictures, RGM Entertainment, Oak3 Films, Rosenbloom Entertainment and Witox.
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Kate Bosworth, Alessandro Nivola, Keri Russell, David Rasche.
Director/screenwriter: David Auburn.
Executive producers: Devesh Chetty, David Chin, Robyn Gardiner, Christian Arnold-Beutel, Philip Fier
Producers: Sean Furst, Bryan Furst, Dale Rosenbloom.
Director of photography: Stuart Dryburgh.
Production designer: Kelly McGehee.
Music: Theodore Shapiro.
Costume designer: Michelle Matland.
Editor: Kristina Boden.
Sales agent: Equation.
Rated R, 117 minutes.
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