Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Girl in the Park


Sometimes a movie comes along that keeps me on the edge of my seat because I think it’s going along pretty well, engaging me with good characters, an interesting situation, good writing and acting … and I can see a pitfall ahead, a route that, if taken, will spoil the whole thing. This is one like that. And I have to issue a SPOILER WARNING, because whether or not the movie succeeds or fails depends on how much narrative bullshit we are prepared to swallow.

Sigourney Weaver is a mother of two young children. One day in the park she turns her back on her three-year-old girl … and she vanishes. Cut to: Sixteen years later. Whoa! Her marriage has broken up. She is almost totally withdrawn from human contact, never seeing her son or her ex-husband. Losing a child like that is something that you never get over entirely, and for some, probably most, you never get over at all. (I can’t imagine.) Not even a little bit. She is dead inside, wanting no further contact with anyone. If she ever cares for anyone again, she might get hurt that badly again.

But against her every instinct she becomes involved with a girl, about nineteen years old. Which is the age her girl would be, if still alive. And, of course, it is possible. Maybe Maggie was not taken by a pervert who used her and threw her away like a dirty Kleenex. Maybe the abductor was a woman desperate for a child of her own. At first she harbors no hope or illusion, this is just a troubled young woman, a street scam artist. But then a clue or two leads her to think that … just maybe

Of course, for this girl to be Maggie magically returned from among the eight million stories in the naked city would take a coincidence of truly meg-Dickensian proportions, and I was prepared to (figuratively) put my foot through the screen if that happened. So rest easy. She is not Maggie, and eventually Weaver accepts that. So I can recommend the film, to my considerable relief. Because it really is pretty good.