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
I saw The Woodsman at the 2004 Stockholm International Film Festival. It was quite a popular film at the festival, especially with all the Oscars-buzz surrounding Kevin Bacon due to this film.
The Woodsman is about a pedophile who gets released from prison and tries to fit into society. He works at a sawmill, meets a woman and tries to stay out of trouble. But feelings he tries to push away emerge again, and the question is if he can stay out of trouble for long.
Kevin Bacon is terrific in The Woodsman, but The Woodsman is not a terrific film. Rather it's a quite mediocre film that has it's points but also walks into some of the traps that always surround dramas that deal with a difficult subject.
Let's start out with Kevin Bacon. He is as good as i have ever seen him. He has been one of my favorites for a long time, and i hope that this film can finally give him a shot at the Oscars. He really lifts this film a couple of notches as well. So, what about the film itself?
Well, it has it's ups and downs. The up is that it deals with a difficult subject in a rather good way. Instead of just boiling everything down into just black and white (as is often the case in Hollywood films) this film tries to understand. While most of us feel that pedophiles are disgusting people and that the crimes they commit are horrible, they are still human and as complex as you or me. It doesn't excuse them in any way, but perhaps in understanding them we can better prevent these crimes. Just categorizing them as plain monsters doesn't help us stop any of this from happening.
The downside in this film is mostly the exaggerations added to make a greater impact. Sometimes you get the feeling that there is a pedophile waiting behind every tree, and it just becomes a bit too much. Also the love story between Kevin Bacon and (his real-life wife) Kyra Sedgwick feels a bit shallow.
All in all this is an interesting film well worth the effort of watching it. I guess many people will shy away from the subject matter, which is sad really since this film in no way tries to justify child molestation. So watch it, more for Kevin Bacon than for the story. I rate this 6/10.
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