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Review: The Woodsman (2004)

The Woodsman (2004) 

Directed by: Nicole Kassell

Premise: A child molester (Kevin Bacon) is released on parole and tries to reassemble his life.

What Works: If there were any doubt, this film proves that Kevin Bacon is one of America’s greatest working actors. Part of the film’s great accomplishment is the way it finds that balance between painting a sympathetic portrait of this man but not condoning his crimes. This is achieved through Bacon’s performance and smart writing and directing. The film is able to keep its narrative going with the constant threat that he might slip back into a life of crime. Mos Def has a very strong supporting role as a police sergeant who contributes a great deal to the tone of the film and makes the most of the few scenes that he has. A few of the sequences in The Woodsman are really gut wrenching, especially those between Bacon and a young girl played by Hannah Pilkes.

What Doesn’t: Some of the supporting cast roles are not as fully fleshed out as they could be. This is in part due to the film’s tight focus but a little more empathy for these characters would have broadened the film’s texture.

DVD extras: Commentary track, deleted scenes, and a featurette.

Bottom Line: The Woodsman is a harrowing but hopeful film about sin and redemption. It’s one of the bravest films to come along in awhile and The Woodsman ought to be seen. It’s a shame this did not get a wider theatrical release in 2004 because this is a better film than anything that was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar at the 2005 Academy Awards.

Episode: #66 (September 4, 2005)