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Awesome: 20.73%
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9 reviews, 28 user ratings

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Woodsman, The
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by Dennis Swennumson

"It pains me to say this...but Kevin Bacon does have talent"
4 stars

“The Woodsman” features a main character and a lead actor much in the way 2003’s “Monster” did. Both explore the lives and psyches of people who commit undoubtedly immoral and heinous crimes, but trade a stone cold indictment of their subjects for a certain semblance of dignity. They are never forgiven for their extreme transgressions, but room for understanding is made. Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos, in a performance that completely erased her distinct beauty and negated the unfortunate previous roles that focused on those good looks. Kevin Bacon produces a kind of male equivalent here with his casting as a paroled sex offender in “The Woodsman”, it’s a work of calculated and gut-wrenching acting that deserves notice. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t really achieve much beyond that performance.

45-year-old Walter has just been approved for parole after serving twelve-years in prison. He finds a blue collar job with relative ease and moves into an apartment across the street from a grade school. The prospect of a movie that somewhat finds sympathy with a pedophile is challenging enough, and from the beginning its clear that “The Woodsman” is a film that takes great patience and an open mind to endure its confronting material. Walter is determined to keep to himself, but he cannot avoid the fact that his day to day life will be monitored with intense scrutiny. His boss (David Alan Grier) warns him on the first day of work, a secretary (Eve) immediately does some research and a detective (Mos Def) makes frequent and ominous visits. He can only seek out the unsteady friendship of his brother-in-law- the only member of his family willing to speak to him (Benjamin Bratt), and he slowly begins a relationship with a hardened co-worker, Vickie (Kyra Sedgwick).

Even if the character wasn’t on screen for the entire duration, all eyes would still be on Kevin Bacon’s performance. This is the most challenging role the actor has ever taken, and he fulfills expectations. He gives Walter a proper melancholy and edginess; this is a character that means what he says and values his privacy. Even the notion of writing his thoughts down in a journal sickens him and sparks his paranoia. The movie’s best scene comes during one of Walter’s therapy sessions. The therapist unleashes a barrage of questions about his childhood and his now-estranged sister, and Bacon allows the character’s wounds to slowly, fully show through. It’s a gripping and poignant scene that legitimizes the film and Bacon’s skill as an actor.

Though the movie is carried by skilled acting from its entire cast- Mos Def proves to be one justifiable rapper-turned-actor -it unfortunately seems to never take full control of its material. It cannot shake a certain feeling of made-for-TV melodrama, if the confronting scenes were toned down just a notch, it could have easily wound up as a movie-of-the-week. Common social issues relating to paroled sex offenders are simply acknowledged- like the suspiciousness of Walter’s choice of apartment location, or merely turned into plot devices to create conflict, like the circulation of Walter’s criminal profile and mug shot. However, screenwriters Steven Fechter and Nicole Kassell- who also serves as director- nail down the psychological profile of Walter, placing him in one treacherous situation after another. “The Woodsman” has some very unfortunate flaws, but the dramatic value it continuously produces- like its riveting and squeamish climactic scene- and its acting provide its true quality.

This hopefully will be the beginning of a streak for the best acting of Kevin Bacon’s career.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8537&reviewer=338
originally posted: 01/19/05 19:34:56
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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

12/16/18 Ajpwales Nothing happens. Bacon is too sympathetic. Afternoon movie. 2 stars
9/24/07 smrtpants so significant, see also: "mysterious skin" 5 stars
1/02/07 Anthony Best husband/wife/actor film out there! 4 stars
6/24/06 MP Bartley Bacon - as ever - is simply tremendous. That scene on the bench.Ooof..... 4 stars
5/22/06 Agent Sands A movie written and directed with remarkable compassion. 4 stars
5/05/06 tatum The whole cast and direction are a revelation 5 stars
3/08/06 Suzz it's all about Bacon's sensitive, nuanced performance 4 stars
2/20/06 Agent Sands Really engaging, creatively written. Great cast. 5 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Bacon's best performance. Mos def's best performance. Bratt's best performance. Nuff said. 4 stars
10/26/05 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
8/25/05 Jenny Walker It was a hard movie to watch but the acting was woth it. 5 stars
7/17/05 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
6/19/05 Charlene Javier Kevin Bacon was robbed! 4 stars
6/13/05 Jackie Remarkable, Brave, and daring 5 stars
5/28/05 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
4/18/05 Danny I like Kevin Bacon, but I found this very tiresome and hard to get through. 3 stars
3/02/05 michael weber urgh..........urgh 4 stars
1/07/05 olala little bored 3 stars
9/19/04 denny nice: didn't attempt to make him any thing more than a man trying to live with his "disease 4 stars
8/25/04 sarah knoxville i loved it 5 stars
8/06/04 Brandy Felder a fine piece of contrived art 2 stars
7/01/04 jeffrey Tuff subject material excellant acting Go See it! 4 stars
2/08/04 Brad nice 5 stars
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  24-Dec-2004 (R)
  DVD: 12-Apr-2005



Directed by
  Nicole Kassell

Written by
  Nicole Kassell
  Steven Fechter

  Kevin Bacon
  Kyra Sedgwick
  Benjamin Bratt
  Mos Def
  David Alan Grier

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