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Disturbing, unsettling, but brilliant and spellbinding
anhedonia30 October 2004
The last film that unsettled me much like "The Woodsman" did was Todd Solondz's superb and exceedingly black comedy, "Happiness" (1998), which dealt with similar themes. But unlike Solondz, who never seems to like any of his characters, screenwriters Nicole Kassell and Steven Fechter appear to genuinely care about the people they create.

Their story's really very simple: Walter (Kevin Bacon) gets out of prison after serving a dozen years for molesting young girls. He takes a job at a Philadelphia-area lumber mill and tries to get his life back together again, while dealing with his inner demons.

What's likely to disturb many about "The Woodsman" is that Kassell and Fechter raise the intriguing question of whether someone who's done something despicable is not only capable of putting his life back together again after serving his time, but also whether society ought to allow him to do so. And to make our job even tougher, Kassell and Fechter don't turn Walter into a monster.

"The Woodsman" is aided immensely by a strong, compelling performance by Bacon. It's easily his best work, a role that requires him to underplay his character. Director Kassell isn't shy about letting the camera linger on Bacon's face and Bacon credibly brings to life Walter's suffering. It's a sensationally good performance. Bacon gives him depth and feeling and we suddenly find ourselves caring about this reprehensible man.

There are some superb supporting performances, including Mos Def as a cop, David Alan Grier as Walter's boss and Benjamin Bratt proving he really can act if he's given a good role. The most interesting supporting character is Vickie, a coworker willing to give Walter a second chance at life. Kyra Sedgwick, a gifted, yet under-rated, actress, is utterly convincing as Vickie, a woman almost as damaged as Walter is.

The Walter-Vickie relationship works because there's terrific chemistry between Bacon and Sedgwick. True, they're husband and wife, but real-life couples can fail miserably on screen. Kidman and Cruise in "Far and Away" (1992), anyone?

Bacon and Sedgwick's scenes are tender, passionate and real. Though, there's one intimate moment between Walter and Vickie that's clearly inspired by the famous Donald Sutherland-Julie Christie love scene in Nicolas Roeg's "Don't Look Now" (1973).

What makes "The Woodsman" such gripping viewing is that the film doesn't shy away from letting us into Walter's struggle. There's a particularly uncomfortable scene on a park bench as Walter comes to terms with his true nature.

"The Woodsman" is a film that deserves to be seen. It's a pity that less-than-mediocre movies, such as "Connie and Carla" and "Twisted," get widely released, while a gem like "The Woodsman" gets to very few theaters. Seek out this film. It's not an easy film to watch, but the performances are all good, the story's riveting and it's definitely one of the best, most thought-provoking films of the year.
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Intelligent and thought-provoking.
sibisi732 November 2004
An intelligent and thought-provoking film that never flinches from it's subject matter, and includes a superb performance from it's leading man. Kassell's film manages to steer clear of didacticism and lays the misunderstandings and prejudices about, and ignorance of, paedophilia open for the audience to interpret in their own way. The protagonist is neither a sympathetic hero or a villain, but during the course of the film he wavers between the two leaving the audience both supportive and sickened. This amalgam of conflicting emotions makes 'The Woodsman' essential viewing for a rational, adult audience. I only wonder how an audience would react to a paedophile played by an unknown actor without Bacon's profile, as I suspect many people would find it harder to accept without his charisma or celebrity attached to the film.
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Kevin Bacon is towering in a tough-sell film.....
lrpulini22 November 2004
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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It takes guts
Tvandiejie1 January 2005
I know this is a controversial subject and will most likely not earn Kevin Bacon - or at least the movie makers - any good points with a lot of people, but I urge people to keep an open mind.

Walter - Kevin Bacon - is released after 12 years in prison for child molestation. He is trying to get back on track when he meets Vickie - Kyra Sedgwick - who makes him feel a bit better about himself. The movie portrays Walter's struggle with his past, his crime and his new life.

The characters and the crime are not romanticized. The movie can even a bit abrasive as it drills down to the truth and shows you the things just as they are.

I think it takes guts to portray a controversial subject like this one and I certainly think it takes guts to play a role like Walter's. Excellent performances by Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and Mos Def.
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Ignore the low rating
omouallem6 October 2004
I saw this movie at the Vancouver Film Festival. Not only was it one of the best movies I saw at the fest, but one of the best of the year. I truly believed it to be Bacon's career performance.

The script is solid, full of great dialogue and thick symbolism. The characters all fully developed and never one-sided. Each has their dark side. A commendable effort to Emmy winner, Mos Def, who makes us hate him when he's a good cop, and love him when he's a bad one.

The reason the rating is so low is because it's hard to accept a character that is a child molester. Probably because everyone knows someone or is someone who has been sexually abused. This is a film about redemption and forgiveness--something we can all definitely agree with. It is also a story about humanity--something we all have in common.
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Superb exploration of shame and the struggle to be normal
mgleez12 December 2004
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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Sympathy For The Devil: Bacon's best performance to date
george.schmidt27 December 2004
THE WOODSMAN (2004) ***1/2 Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, David Alan Grier, Eve, Benjamin Bratt, Mos Def, Hannah Pilkes.

Sympathy For The Devil: Bacon's best performance to date

Kevin Bacon has always been one of my favorite actors and constantly proves to be such a truly exceptional one at that. In his latest as a recently paroled convicted pedophile he gives the performance of his career that should entitle him to his first Academy Award nomination (long overdue).

Walter (Bacon) is an ex-con attempting to begin a normal life after being incarcerated for molesting several young girls. What seems to be a large task at hand only proves to be increasingly difficult for a variety of reasons including the fact his apartment is just out of reach of the mandated length he cannot be within the distance of a school which rests – tauntingly like a diabetic a candy factory – directly across the street where he now lives. This is a test he rationalizes and reports this discovery and others to his appointed therapy sessions with a psychiatrist which only makes Walter increasingly uncomfortable as the good doctor suggests he keep a journal and reflect on what he has done (or worse what he may do).

Getting a job as a factory worker in his run-down Philly suburb Walter keeps to himself especially from the slyly sexy Mary-Kay (rapper Eve) who has other plans for the newcomer and instead is befriended by the tomboyish yet open-minded Vickie (Bacon's real-life wife Sedgwick also giving a career high performance with just the right amount of fronting toughness and vulnerable empathy when she beds and eventually discovers Walter's burning secrets.

All of the proceedings lead to a keg of explosive ramifications as Walter tries desperately to walk the straight and narrow but it isn't helping matters as the deck is stacked against him in the form of police Sgt. Lucas (rap star Mos Def in the Walter Matthau role) dogging Walter as a likely suspect in rash of recent child molestings. Sooner or later Walter is going to return to his old form. Or so it seems.

Bacon is truly amazing in his implosive turn as a man so at odds with being in his own skin it threatens to suffocate him in his vein gestures at becoming 'normal' and his body language suggests a crumbling man of sand about to blow away in the winds of society. His pained, grimace of accepting his sickness only curdles his well intended desire to shirk his monstrous past but will not embrace the touchy-feely psycho-babble that he must endure to delve into his childhood as perhaps the key to his perversities.

Smartly directed by newcomer Nicole Kassel – who co-scripted the usually on-target screenplay with Steven Fechter (they bungle it when Walter's play-by-play inner monologue of a perceived local molester makes a mark outside his window is a tad uneasy) – wisely allows her character just enough rope to hang himself before reeling himself back to square one. There is a nice interplay of just the right amount of nervous tension between Bacon's Walter and a little girl named Robin (perfectly played by Pilkes) he espies one day and follows into a local park .

Bacon is a journeyman character actor trapped in a leading man's body but has what so few of his contemporaries do : moxy, talent and the chops to tackle a taboo subject without being exploitative. That is the true skill of a marksman and that is truly what Bacon is.
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I like the noise
ferguson-627 December 2004
Greetings again from the darkness. Although I am a self-proclaimed Kevin Bacon hater, let me stand up and shout that this is not only his best ever performance (by far) but also a performance that will stand up against most any dramatic turn by any actor. For the first time, Bacon is understated rather than overacting and hamming. The film and Bacon capture the emotional torment of a recently released from prison child molester as he struggles to fit in and "be normal". Bacon's remarkable acting is extremely well supported by (his real life wife) Kyra Sedgwick, Mos Def, Benjamin Bratt and a most surprising Eve. Bacon's eyes are truly haunting and we feel his pain as he struggles to find a bit of joy amidst his demons. Two weak script features were the rapidness of Sedgwick's character's acceptance of Bacon and the over the top scene in the park with young Robin. Otherwise, the realism was gritty and believable. Not one I want to see again, but the creepiness and edginess make it worth seeing.
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This is an intense, "tough to watch"film
morrowmmm15 February 2005
I held my breath throughout this film wondering if he would repeat his mistakes. It was obvious that this was a molester of young girls who hated himself and you could see him fighting the whole way through. Possibly many people who gave this film a low rating said to themselves that a portrayal of a paedophile deserved no sympathy and the producers should not have made it. But the film addressed two salient facts. Firstly there are far more paedophiles around than caught and this type of thing happens frequently in a domestic situation. Far more frequently than anyone is willing to admit. Secondly paedophiles come in many forms and some are as Walter is. He hates it but cannot help it without a huge amount of inner strength. At the end you do not know if he will do it again, it seems likely, but he hates himself and the urges he gets even more than others around him do. It was an intense film, very hard to watch but it points out some ugly truths which most people will not want to admit happens. yet there are a thousand stories of this happening with no one bought to justice. First class acting by all but no one will thank them for it (as we see from the ratings).
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Impressive movie
lilian-s31 January 2005
A very interesting movie, and great performance, specially from Kevin Bacon. I was looking for seeing it in Oscars. But, the deep and human stories, cannot touch the Hollywood's system. Perhaps, they prefer to avoid truths, it hearts or it gives away... Anyway, this movie can be appreciated by spectators and they can admire an actor complete and mature, perhaps one of the rare actors in USA's cinema of today. I liked the scenes, the discreetness of the scenarist, the zoom in Kevin Bacon face, as the feelings and the inner battle of the hero, were obvious, perhaps more eloquent than words. Nicole Cassel and all the cast did really a great job. Congratulations!
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incredible movie about a delicate theme
killpop21 January 2004
saw the tuesday morning showing at Sundance and let me tell you, this is by far the best thing Mr. Bacon has ever done, and should garner him some acting awards this year, though since the subject of the movie deals with a tabboo subject, it might not get picked up by a major studio, and with limited release could keep him out oscar contention. I don't care though, he and his wife pull out incredible performances and if acting awards are giving to great actors, he deserves one for this movie.

I'm not going to go into the plot, basically it's based on a play that I never saw, (obviously living in the Midwest, we rarely get plays). and deals with a convicted pedofile trying to re-adjust to live after 12 years in prison, as well as confronting the demons that put him in jail in the first place. Kyra plays a woman who befriends him, and even after she finds out what his crime was, falls in love with him and assists him with his struggles. of note is a very special performance by a young Hannah Pilkes who plays a young bird watcher who temps Bacon's character and shows him that abuse is everywhere.
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Kevin Bacon shines
Antagonisten1 December 2004
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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A Movie Worth Discussing
msolboogiez15 January 2005
The fascinating aspect of this film is how it manages to put viewers into an awkward position: empathizing with the molester. Kevin Bacon's reserved handling of the character Walter is deft and powerful. At times, he is almost unrecognizable as Kevin Bacon.

The discussions that I heard after this movie were conversations I was glad to hear. Bacon's character in the film had a unusual sexual awakening early in life. Having no healthy means to try to understand his fetish, he got stuck in that moment of time forever. It turned into a sexual perversion and ending up being something that banished him from normal society. It makes for a brilliant psychological conflict on film.

On a side note, the musical scoring to this film is notably wonderful. Perhaps that has something to do with Damon Dash being one of the producers.
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Woodman, Woodman, Spare That Three Year Old
writers_reign25 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A good friend of mine has a built-in aversion verging on phobia against manipulative movies to the extent that it blinded her to the brilliance of Million Dollar Baby and I'm dreading what she will make of this. On the other hand she could reply that I am overly susceptible to manipulation at the hands of skilled, professional movie makers and both of us may be right. However like the man said difference of opinion is what makes horse races so we can take this one right to Aqueduct. From her point of view there's manipulation in spades. Walter (Kevin Bacon) is just out of the Joint after drawing 12 years for, in his own words, molesting little girls. He takes a job in a lumber yard (heavy use of title symbolism although THAT woodsman is the one in the fairy tale who cuts the girl out of the wolf's stomach. Right off he rejects the advances of Mary-Kay - played by an actress known simply as Eve and if THAT isn't an omen what is - who is one of those egoists who figure that any guy who rejects them must have a secret that needs exposing. Adding to Walter's burden is Sgt Lucas (Mos Def - where do the GET these names from?) who's a graduate of the give-a-dog-a-bad-name school of detection and enjoys nothing more than hassling Walter and delivering sloppy script points like asking Walter where he was at such a time and such a day when a girl was molested and THEN telling Walter that every move he (Walter) makes has been observed since he left the slammer, illustrating that by definition Walter could NOT have been involved in the alleged molestation. Just by way of an extra handicap Walter can only find a room right across the street from a school playground, which is not unlike a compulsive gambler taking a room at Caesar's Palace. The Book of Job isn't in it as Walter is denounced anonymously by Eve to add to the rest of his troubles. All the reviews I read in the National Press - unqualified raves to a man -made the same point, that we are being asked to empathize with a paedophile and wind up actually doing so. The film resembles nothing so much a a Wounded Bird Convention beginning with Walter himself then taking in Vickie (Kyra Sedgwick, Bacon's real-life wife) who has a tale of her own to trade for his, as a girl she was sexually abused by not one but THREE brothers, and winding up with Robin (Hannah Pilkes) the eleven year old girl befriended (if that's the right word) by Walter, who reveals obliquely that she is being abused by her father. There's not a bad performance in the whole film but I'm reminded of the now notorious comment by critic Brooks Atkinson when reviewing the first performance of Pal Joey on Broadway. After noting the excellence of the Rodgers and Hart score and the fine singing and acting on display he concluded by asking 'can you draw sweet water from a foul well?' From the comments I've seen posted here I'd have to say Yes.
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Oscar performances in an emotionally powerful film
RH-2017 October 2004
Just saw this at the Mill Valley Film Festival. This is Kevin Bacon's greatest performance. He is courageous to take on a role that is rarely, if ever, seen with compassion. There is no over- simplification here: he plays a child molester who is struggling to be normal. He is making progress and he is also failing. This is a film about forgiveness and redemption and fear. From a filmic point of view, it is a nail-biter as you find yourself hoping he makes it. There is also a subtle erotic interaction with his off-screen wife. This is a must-see for serious film goers. I hope that the culture we live in can accept the difficult subject and recognize an Oscar quality film from a new director.
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Painfully, and Powerfully acted honest storytelling...
ddbair1431 May 2004
It will be too bad if this film doesn't find a wide distribution.

We've become a culture of dumbed down knee-jerk reactions ignoring the human pain and frailty all around us which this film counteracts in spades!

It's a well photographed slowly, but well paced look at a man trying to deal with his demons and those who make an effort to help him and hinder him on his journey. A pivotal scene with an "almost twelve" year old girl on a park bench is incredible! The risk in trying to help another and the damage done by selfishly seeing only what you want to see is very well presented without being preachy.

Everyone associated with this effort of compassion needs to be thanked by us all!
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The heart of darkness
jotix10025 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Walter, a child molester, is released from jail, where he has served time for one of the most heinous crimes ever committed by a person. He is a man that has lost everything in the process. His sister repudiates him; the only one being kind is his brother-in-law, Carlos, who feels it's his duty to be nice to him because Walter had proved to be his friend in his own time of need.

What's to expect from a man like Walter? This is the basis of this courageous and disturbing film, directed by Nicole Kassell with great sensitivity to the subject matter. Can Walter keep away from the temptations that were instrumental in landing him in jail? Or, would he go back to harming unsuspecting children? When he arrives in Philadelphia, Walter is given a job by a man whose father had met him in prison. For all practical purposes, Walter seems to be behaving himself, even when his new apartment overlooks a play area of an elementary school. He is trying to work things out with a therapist, apparently, making progress. He becomes obsessed with a man he sees hanging out by the playground offering candy and rides to young boys. This is a sad reminder for him of what landed him in jail.

In the lumber factory where he works, Walter meets Vicky. She is also a woman who has seen a lot. Vicky doesn't appear to be a likely candidate for a relationship with the ex-con, but they appear to be more compatible than what one gives them credit for, at a simple glance. Vicky begins caring for Walter as his secret past suddenly is blown out of proportion in the work place. Vicky is not a quitter, and she realizes she loves him, and she can't believe the monster Walter is supposed to be, is the man that she has fallen for.

After quitting his job, Walter is seen on a bus, attracted by a young girl that is traveling alone. He follows her into a park, but the encounter only emboldens him to pursue the girl. When everything turns bad, after seeing his sister briefly, Walter begins a predatory march toward the park, searching for Robin, the meek young girl he met before. That encounter reveals that Robin is a damaged girl, victim of an abusive father and Walter changes his mind about it. The film ends in a positive note as Vicky comes for Walter to take him to her place.

"The Woodsman" works because of the incredible Kevin Bacon. He is the Walter of the story. Mr. Bacon has never been better! This actor surprises by the way he conveys the essence of the character just by looking at all the emotions going through inside him. Under the direction of Nicole Kassell, Kevin Bacon rises to the challenge of capturing Walter.

Kira Sedgwick is seen as Vicky. She is also contributes to make the film even better. In supporting roles Mos Def, Eve, Benjamin Bratt and the sweet Hannah Pilkes are seen. Ms. Pilkes is a revelation in the film. She shows great talent holding her own against Mr. Bacon.

Nicole Hassell and her cinematographer, Xavier Perez Grobit have done wonders with a film that in spite of the darkness of the situation, shed a lot of light into the picture. Ms. Hassell is a new talent who will, no doubt, go places.
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Great Movie
Elena_C23 February 2004
I saw this film in Jan. 2004, at the Sundance Film Festival. This is for sure the best work I have seen Kevin Bacon in yet. The subject matter is serious and intense, and I believe he plays the role very sensitively, with great emotion. This is not a movie about a pedophile, but rather the struggles the character deals with as he is thrown back into society after 12 long years in prison. Highly recommended!
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one of Kevin bacon's best performances and a great supporting cast.
flashbeagle7 February 2005
This week's review is for "The Woodsman," the directorial debut of Nicole Kassell.

The woodsman tells the story of Walter, played with an Oscar-worthy performance by Kevin Bacon, who just got out of prison for child molestation after 12 years. Walter attempts to restart his life as a normal citizen by buying an apartment, which happens to be across the street from a grade school because it was the only landlord that would take his money, and by getting a job at a lumberyard. Walter begins a romance with co-worker Vickie, played beautifully by Kyra Sedgwick, and must deal with the label that society places on him and his own self-guilt. With the help of Kyra and a young girl, Robin, perhaps the only 2 people who understand and sympathize with him, Walter attempts to forgive himself and become what he wants to be, just normal.

Kevin Bacon does a remarkable job playing the detached almost emotionless Walter. You're able see in his eyes, in his face, the anguish that he puts on himself and the reflections of society's view of him. Yes, I called his performance Oscar-worthy, and it is, unfortunately, it came out too late to be considered by the academy this year, and too early to be considered for next year's awards. Kyra Sedgwick does a great job as Walter's love interest and as a woman who has her own inner demons from her past. Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick are accompanied by a great supporting cast including Benjamin Bratt, Mos Def, Eve, and David Allen Grier, all of which pull their weight with great performances.

One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is how the topic of pedophilia is handled. Bacon plays the role not as most people see child molesters as just a person who has a sick fetish, but instead Walter is a man who knows that its wrong, doesn't want to be this way, but cannot help it. As Benjamin Bratt's character describes it, his disease. The audience, instead of disliking Walter, as we normally would, sympathizes with him and sees that in some cases it may be a mental sickness. It's also interesting to see how Walter's outlook on the world is. He is a man confused by the ideas of love and attraction as he suspects that his best friend has romantic feelings toward his daughter just because he used the term love.

What really makes this movie is the final 20 or so minutes, in which as I sat there, I was tense and on the edge of my seat and not a breath could be heard throughout the theatre. The little girl, Robin, played by first timer Hannah Pilkes, almost steals one of the climactic scenes away from Bacon and really makes her presence in the film known. While the final 20 minutes really propels the film to success, that is not to say that the first hour and ten minutes are not without their merit. However, at times, it did seem like it took a bit too long to get to where it was going.

The Woodsman is a great film that deals with a subject that you don't see too much in film and it's handled remarkably. Nicole Kassell produces a great film her first time around which gives me the pleasure to give the Woodsman 4 stars.
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An unbelievable film about a pedophile
MagicStarfire13 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Kevin Bacon is a fine actor and I admire him taking the risk of playing this role, but I think the film would have been far better if it had contained a more true to life portrait of a pedophile.

As I understand it, serial pedophiles cannot be cured, and only through extreme will power, and usually with the help of aversion therapy and medication, can even a few of them manage to control their behavior.

Some critics have said this film is sympathetic to pedophiles. I wouldn't say that about it, Kevin Bacon's character, Walter, is not particularly likable or sympathetic, in my opinion.

However the film is exceedingly unrealistic by giving the impression that all Walter needs to straighten him out is: (a)the love of a good woman (b)the realization that a little girl is already being abused by her father and (c)turning violently upon another pedophile. In the latter case, I wasn't so sure but what his violence had more to do with the other pedophile being interested in little boys rather than little girls, then it did with actually realizing the destructive nature of pedophilia on its victims.

I had hoped we might learn more about what leads to this behavior in the first place, but that information was not supplied.

5 stars out of 10.
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Maybe the Best Performance of Kevin Bacon, in an Unpleasant and Practically Forbidden Theme in Hollywood
claudio_carvalho1 November 2005
After twelve years in prison, the child molester Walter (Kevin Bacon) is released in probation. He starts a new life, getting a small and simple apartment near a school, and a job in a lumberyard. The tormented Walter tries to be and act normal, haunted by his past demons and having sessions with a shrink, while the snoopy gossip colleague Mary-Kay (Eve) investigates his life. He has an affair with another suffered colleague, Vicky (Kyra Sedgwick), while is also stalked by a suspicious detective, Sgt. Lucas (Mos Def).

"The Woodsman" is one of the best dramas I have recently watched, and maybe is the best performance of Kevin Bacon in his long career. The story touches a very unpleasant and practically forbidden theme in Hollywood, the life of a pedophile. Further, the drama is presented from the side of the sex offender, how difficult is to rehabilitate such a person in a "normal" society, facing his own guilty and shame, and the prejudice of the society as a whole. The direction of this independent movie is stunning, and the performances are outstanding. The underrated actress Kyra Sedgwick (Mrs. Kevin Bacon in real life), Mos Def, Eve and the young Hannah Pilkes are amazing with their very real and human interpretations. The metaphoric title, related to the woodsman that saved the little girl in Little Riding Red Hood fairytale, completes this excellent movie with a "golden key". My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "O Lenhador" ("The Woodsman")
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Skeletons in the closet.....
Boggman10 June 2005
Bravo, Bravo, Bravo! "The Woodsman" is a great human drama! I had read so many reviews that this movie was "disturbing" and that it "sympathized with child molesters"??? What a load of garbage! Some people just don't know how to interpret a movie in the way it is meant to be represented.It seems like every time a film is made that tackles "real life issues"; people duck and cover—or worse, they start criticizing and tearing it down.

Simply put, this movie is brilliant…and I will explain why: "The Woodsman" is about ADDICTIONS, not pedophiles. A pedophile is used as a metaphor for the film, but the underlying message of the film is all about addiction.

A lot of people have addictions that may not be good for them or for others that surround them. In fact, everyone has at one point succumbed to temptation of one sort or another. Some people have addictions that hurt themselves or others, and others have "healthier" addictions that don't hurt anybody. But we all have them. Some smoke, drink, steal, compulsively lie or even abuse others. Some people get in trouble for not being able to resist their temptations; and therefore may pay the heavy and well deserved price. People who DO succumb to their not-so-healthy addictions often find a way of restraining and coping with them. However; some people NEVER learn to resist their addictions and impulses—and end up paying throughout their lives without ever learning the meaning of self control.

Keep that in mind while watching "The Woodsman". Because that is what this film is REALLY about—a man who is trying to resist his addictions and the temptation he feels after regaining a chance to join society after being released from prison.

I'm not going to tell the story of "The Woodsman" in this review, because no matter what could be said in writing, this is a movie that should be watched and experienced for your self.

This is not a film for children, or people looking for mindless action or comedy. This is a REAL drama. It is an adult, honest, and fantastic movie that just soars.

Kevin Bacon is such a brilliant actor. Here is a movie star millionaire who could do any kind of movie he wants. The fact that he will work for NOTHING and take on such roles as this- just proves his dedication to the craft of acting and film making. Kevin and his wife Kyra Sedgwick also helped to finance this little gem and get it off the ground.

"The Woodsman" is the best movie I have ever seen with a husband and wife team acting together. Normally, two married (or even dating) actors is a recipe for disaster in a movie. These two play SO well off each other in these gritty roles that as the viewer you will not only completely forget the fact that they been married for years; but that they are also successful millionaire movie stars.

This movie should have gotten some Oscars, or at least some nominations. The "Academy" just really sucks sometimes! To nominate such movies as "Finding Neverland" or "The Aviator" and their male leads and to have ignored Kevin Bacon and "The Woodsman" only goes to show how far Hollywood has NOT come in recognizing fantastic works of art.

I loved this movie. It was captured beautifully. HIGHLY, HIGHLY, recommended for people who consider themselves intelligent movie goers that like honest, well written, and extremely well acted films.
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Go see this movie!!!
dmasursky27 January 2005
Don't be put off by the subject matter -- yes, Kevin Bacon plays a child molester just released from prison, and yes, the movie is distressing. It is also amazing. It would not be hyperbole to say that it was the best movie I saw all year. It is very quiet, without a lot of dialog and many scenes of just watching characters react to each other. Very subtle and very moving. And so fresh and different from so many movies that bash you over the head with The Point they're trying to make. When I got to the end, I realized how many levels the movie was operating on, without my even noticing. You could watch this movie many times, as there are many meanings to what is said, even the title has at least two meanings. I have always liked Kevin Bacon and I have so much respect for him for taking this role, it was so brave, and he just breaks your heart several times over with his performance. It is beyond me how the Academy could have overlooked him, they are cowards. Reward this fine actor and the many brave and talented people who made this excellent movie and go see it.
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Career-best Kevin Bacon
gsprods21 January 2005
Kevin Bacon has appeared in about 55 films during his 25 years in the business. This is perhaps the most complex role he's ever played and the result is quite impressive. With the help of Director Nicole Kassell (making a solid debut effort) and his off-screen wife Kyra Sedgwick (excellent actress), Bacon makes a wise (but difficult) choice to portray this child molester not as a monster (as would be the case in most stories) but rather he portrays him as a very complicated, deeply flawed, tormented man. The fact that this story is told from the pedophile's point-of-view makes it all the more powerful in forcing the viewer to confront this man's humanity (or at least acknowledge that there is a human being somewhere inside the monster). Besides top notch support from Sedgwick and Mos Def, there is a solid (and uneasy to watch) small role excellently played by Hannah Pilkes, as a young girl who tempts Bacon's character. Terrific film.
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Powerful...and very real.
jimbob1240418 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I had read about the scene with Robin but was unprepared for the impact it had on me. Another reviewer above commented that there were too many molesters in one film. Wake up. I personally know over 25 or 30 women who were molested when younger, and I live in a small town. It is a secret crime and the actual statistics are only a tiny fraction of the reality, since, like Robin, many of the victims are related to their molesters. I could find no real flaws in the film, although Eve's character seemed a bit obvious and stereotyped, maybe. The role was necessary to advance the trouble at work scenario, but could have been done a bit more subtly. A film I would see again.
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