The Woodsman (2004)
Critic Consensus: Kevin Bacon's performance as a pedophile who is trying to start fresh has drawn raves from critics, who have praised the Woodsman as compelling, creepy, complex and well-crafted.
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Critic Reviews for The Woodsman
Often cast in high-energy, borderline manic roles, Bacon creates here a sad, lank-haired, introverted character who doesn't fish for sympathy and, for that very reason, and against all odds, ends up winning it.
A lean and unapologetic piece about a type of person too often rendered in simplistic 'monster' colors.
[Ms. Kassell and Mr. Fechter] trick up Walter's character with so many conflicting moods and impulses and then place him within a post-prison society that is itself alternately oppressive and permissive.
An involving, intense but ultimately confused portrait.
Audience Reviews for The Woodsman
A child molester adjusts to post-prison life and falls in love with a co-worker. I applaud Kevin Bacon's choice because this is a ballsy role for a star whose paychecks are secure, but his performance, which is meant to be subtle and aching, comes off like he's squeezing too hard. The film doesn't make Bacon's Walter a particularly admirable character nor is he someone we might love to hate. Instead, the film's central conflict is about getting Walter to realize the depravity of his own desires, which he does along the way, but his realization doesn't become actionable until the climactic scene. It's an interesting source for conflict, but it doesn't carry a lot of suspense. Overall, though the film is admirable in its attempt, I wasn't too compelled by the final product.
Kevin Bacon, not a name usually dropped in conversations about great actors, delivers a tightfisted, bravura performance in this conventionally unconventional tale about a child molester's attempt at societal rehabilitation. Kyra Sedgwick is more than able support as the woman who loves him. It's often difficult to watch, so be warned.
Slow and understated, probably to show the struggles of a very troubled soul, this film offers much to contemplate. There are no easy answers in an issue like the sexual abuse of children, and yet who is good and who is evil is not so clear here in this picture. The one thing that is clear, however, is Kevin Bacon's performance. He played his role beautifully. DIsturbing, yet eye opening film.
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