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The Woodsman

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

By

Kevin Bacon resists temptation in

Kevin Bacon resists temptation in "The Woodsman."

Ever wonder what it's like for a pedophile to return to regular life after twelve years in prison? First time director Nicole Kassell has made a sensitive film about a sensitive topic.
Kevin Bacon stars as the film's anti-hero, Walter, a reformed man who desperately wants to be good. He gets himself a steady job at a lumber mill, a no frills apartment, a well-meaning therapist and even, almost against his own will, a good woman (Bacon's real life spouse Kyra Sedgewick) who drives a fork lift, swears like a man, but wears revealing G-string underwear beneath her tight blue jeans. Still, the challenge remains. A grade school playground lurks across the street; angelic blond children appear to exist for the taking.
Casting Bacon is an inspired choice. He has become almost an American icon of sorts, appearing in over fifty films with parts ranging from the spirited teen who just wants to dance in "Footloose," the cocky astronaut in "Apollo 13" to the honest cop in Clint Eastwood's epic drama "Mystic River." Bacon has got a good face, audiences have learned to trust him, and if ever there were a pedophile to root for, Walter is it. Bacon gives an understated, effective performance.
All of the actors do their part. Sedgewick convincingly delivers her own tough monologue about her own rough past. Bacon is a past abuser, recovering; Sedgewick belongs to the abused, grown strong. Somehow this allows them to reach a tenuous level of understanding. Even Mos Def, who plays a hardened police officer sickened by the things he sees every day, manages to convey goodness and humanity. Kassel cannot be faulted for her skill as filmmaker or her sensitivity. Yet the narrative never comes alive as a story in itself-–not even when Bacon nearly lures a young girl onto his lap.
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