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
The journeyman actor Kevin Bacon blows most of the current Oscar Best Actor competition out of the water with his searing portrayal of a paroled pedophile in The Woodsman. The difficult subject matter may spell box-office suicide for this film, particularly at Christmas time. However, if Newmarket Films is smart, they will market this the same way Monster was promoted for Charlize Theron's performance.
Bacon employs a minimalist acting style and submerges himself into this complex character, on the strength of his physicality alone. Thin and gaunt, hair darkened, eyes dead, and jaw severely set, Bacon doesn't waste a facial muscle or telegraph anything more than necessary. He allows us to get into the character's head piece by piece, and it's not always a pleasant place to be. Bacon is uncompromising in his refusal to make anything about the character trivial and sentimental, and that is the key to his success in making Walter such a vivid, believable man.
The screenplay seems to almost be stripped bare, with little actually revealed through dialogue. However, monologues are used to great effect.
Bacon's mesmerizing performance is enhanced by astute direction from first-timer Nicole Kassell, who also adapted the screenplay with the original playwright, Steven Fechter. The cast is superb-Benjamin Bratt, Kyra Sedgwick, David Alan Grier, the beautiful Eve, and best of all, Mos Def, who steals virtually every scene he is in against Bacon, no small task. for those celebrity-watchers, Madonna's baby's daddy, Carlos Leon (father of Lourdes) is in a few scenes.
This is a must-see for Bacon's work, and for the tasteful, intelligent way the subject matter is handled. In short, Tough material, good solid film.
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