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Overall Rating
3.78

Awesome: 20.99%
Worth A Look44.44%
Average: 25.93%
Pretty Bad: 8.64%
Total Crap: 0%

9 reviews, 27 user ratings


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Woodsman, The
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by EricDSnider

"Some little girls get a few degrees too close to Kevin Bacon."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Kevin Bacon's entire career has been leading up to "The Woodsman," where he finally gets to play a child molester.

His last two major roles were in "Mystic River" and "Trapped," both films about people who harm children. Between them, he appeared as a stalker in "In the Cut." Before that, there was the evil, voyeuristic invisible guy in "Hollow Man" (2000), plus the general ickiness of "Wild Things" (1998).

Bacon has a snaky, lubricated quality to him, with a face that approaches handsomeness but backs off at the last minute to pursue weaseliness instead. I'm not sure I would buy him as a romantic lead. I would definitely buy him as a child molester, though.

And so he is in the dismal, overcast "The Woodsman," playing Walter, a pedophile who has just returned to his hometown of Philadelphia after a 12-year prison sentence. He finds an apartment, unfortunately located adjacent to an elementary school, which I doubt any real-life parole board would tolerate. He also finds a job at a lumberyard, working with wood, his primary skill. (Keep your naughty jokes to yourselves.)

Life is not easy for Walter. His nosy co-worker Alana (rapper Eve) wants to know what he went to prison for, and a mistrustful cop (Mos Def) doesn't believe Walter will be part of the minority of pedophiles who successfully reform. No one trusts him, and he barely trusts himself. His therapist recommends keeping a journal, in which he expresses his torment and the difficulty of resisting temptation.

He falls into a relationship with Vickie (Kyra Sedgwick, Bacon's real-life spouse), a wounded, mildly trashy full-grown woman who gets past his weaknesses and tries to see the good in him. Seeing Bacon and Sedgwick, a married couple, go at it is a bit odd, but hey, if they don't mind us watching....

The screenplay, by director Nicole Kassell (this is her first feature in either capacity), uses more shorthand than it ought to, culling most of Mos Def's dialogue from the Big Book of Movie Cop Clichés and creating a world in which seemingly everyone either molests or has been molested.

Furthermore, there is the issue of What does Walter want? Redemption? Peace? It's hard to say. He doesn't seem to want anything other than to just go on living. As such, it's hard to sympathize with him. He is a child molester, after all. We need a solid, noble goal to get behind, not just a general "I wish I wasn't screwed up" kind of mopiness.

That said, Bacon plays the role extremely well, demonstrating in a few key scenes why he's such a highly regarded actor. He registers emotional intensity when it's called for, and a scene in which he encounters a young girl -- a potential victim -- is dripping with creepy tension.

But the mood of the film is so relentlessly bleak that it's hard to take. Even the small victories in Walter's life are muted and underplayed, giving us little hope for his future. You say, "Well, what kind of happiness and forgiveness should a child molester have?" And I say, probably none -- so why watch a movie about one? A character who is doomed from the start because of his own actions is difficult to support, and a film about him is bound to feel oppressively dark.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8537&reviewer=247
originally posted: 01/25/04 18:32:37
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/24/07 smrtpants so significant, see also: "mysterious skin" 5 stars
1/03/07 Anthony Best husband/wife/actor film out there! 4 stars
6/25/06 MP Bartley Bacon - as ever - is simply tremendous. That scene on the bench.Ooof..... 4 stars
5/23/06 Agent Sands A movie written and directed with remarkable compassion. 4 stars
5/06/06 tatum The whole cast and direction are a revelation 5 stars
3/09/06 Suzz it's all about Bacon's sensitive, nuanced performance 4 stars
2/21/06 Agent Sands Really engaging, creatively written. Great cast. 5 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Bacon's best performance. Mos def's best performance. Bratt's best performance. Nuff said. 4 stars
10/27/05 shannon Insightful 4 stars
9/16/05 Laura Lee Macleod I think the script and ending was unreal but top marks to Kevin Bacon for an awesome perfor 4 stars
8/26/05 Jenny Walker It was a hard movie to watch but the acting was woth it. 5 stars
7/18/05 Brandy Harrington Finally, someone makes a good movie in the 21st century. 5 stars
6/23/05 sally angwin probably the most sensitive scrip for this topic 5 stars
6/20/05 Charlene Javier Kevin Bacon was robbed! 4 stars
6/14/05 Jackie Remarkable, Brave, and daring 5 stars
5/29/05 DM Hard to watch, but excellent acting and a bold choice of subject matter. 4 stars
5/19/05 wjrogers it was ok 3 stars
4/19/05 Danny I like Kevin Bacon, but I found this very tiresome and hard to get through. 3 stars
3/14/05 albert SECOND BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR,AFTER MILLION DOLLAR BABY 5 stars
3/04/05 ALBERT GREAT ACTING BY MR. BACON 5 stars
3/03/05 michael weber urgh..........urgh 4 stars
1/07/05 olala little bored 3 stars
9/20/04 denny nice: didn't attempt to make him any thing more than a man trying to live with his "disease 4 stars
8/26/04 sarah knoxville i loved it 5 stars
8/07/04 Brandy Felder a fine piece of contrived art 2 stars
7/02/04 jeffrey Tuff subject material excellant acting Go See it! 4 stars
2/09/04 Brad nice 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  24-Dec-2004 (R)
  DVD: 12-Apr-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  05-May-2005


Directed by
  Nicole Kassell

Written by
  Nicole Kassell
  Steven Fechter

Cast
  Kevin Bacon
  Kyra Sedgwick
  Benjamin Bratt
  Mos Def
  Eve
  David Alan Grier



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