After twelve years in prison, Walter arrives in an unnamed city, moves into a small apartment across the street from an elementary school, gets a job at a lumberyard, and mostly keeps to himself. A quiet, guarded man, Walter finds unexpected solace from Vickie, a tough-talking woman who promises not to judge him for his history. But Walter cannot escape his past. A convicted sex offender, Walter is warily eyed by his brother-in-law, shunned by his sister, lives in fear of being discovered at work, and is hounded by a suspicious local police officer, Detective Lucas. After befriending a young girl in a neighborhood park, Walter must also grapple with the terrible prospect of his own reawakened demons. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Superb exploration of shame and the struggle to be normal
This is a somewhat slow (never boring) film with several performances of the highest quality. Kyra Sedgwick has amazing scenes, and one in particular flipped around my perception of every other character's motivation. David Alan Grier's performance is, maybe for the first time, not over the top. Hannah Pilkes, in her first film, nearly steals the scene from Kevin Bacon. Eve and Benjamin Bratt both do a good job. Mos Def's lines are either beyond his range or the lines themselves are just too heavy-handed, but Kevin plays off of them in brilliant silence.
Kevin Bacon's performance is Oscar-worthy. In other films, weak effects, poor acting, awful dialog, etc., have pulled me out of the world that the film was attempting to create. Kevin's performance is so good that at one time I found myself pulled out of the experience in awe; while continuing to believe the truth of the character, I was at the same time floored by Kevin's ability to deliver such depth.
Sure, the subject matter allows actors to express strong feeling. Anger is an easy route, as is self-loathing. This script has some of that, but what makes this film great is that primarily it chooses to explore shame and the struggle to be normal. The actors (Bacon, Kira, Pilkes) that are given the opportunity to explore that, they really excel in this film.
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