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The Woodsman (2004)

  Directed by: Nicole Kassell
Written by: Steven Fechter, Nicole Kassell
Starring: Kevin Bacon
Links: The Woodsman on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Intelligent and thought-provoking" - a review by andy-j

Walter has just been released from a twelve-year prison sentence for molesting young girls. This film, adapted from a fictional play, documents his attempt to start a new life. We see Walter struggle with his lack of self-worth, his attempts to 'become normal', and his encounters with people who hate him for his past actions. Walter's entire life is a major struggle, and you get the sense that, at times, he feels he wants to end it all, but he keeps pressing on. But as his life worsens, his self-control begins to slip. He finds himself a girlfriend who eventually accepts him despite his past, but is this enough to help him overcome his compulsions?

One of the things I liked about The Woodsman is that you never really know for sure what is going on in Walter's head, but you can pretty much guess. For example, he knows that he is seen as worthless and a waste of space, and he believes he doesn't really deserve to be free, even though he never says as much. You can tell because he barely opens his mouth, keeps his head down, and never speaks unless spoken to. He really is a well-written character. He doesn't really have much to say, but when he opens his mouth, you can tell that there is a whole other person in there that he isn't allowing out, because he doesn't feel he deserves it. Kevin Bacon does a great job, portraying a character that, in one sense, is very boring, and in another, very compelling to watch. Walter is a character you feel a fair bit of animosity towards, yet seeing him so up-close, you start to feel for him. It's interesting to be at opposite ends of the spectrum at the same time, and it's great that the film allows us to do this without passing judgement and tainting our view.

You can sort of tell that this film was based on a play - it jumps abruptly from scene to scene - kind of like giving us an edited highlights within only a handful of locations. The Woodsman sticks to telling us what we need to know (no time wasted with subplots or the like), but it make sure it does a good job with what it tells us, taking its time and giving us plenty to absorb. This easy but tight flow gives the film a good focus, allowing a bit of time for reflection and thought. I liked this approach a lot

The Woodsman is a thought-provoking film which has been approached with a lot of thought and consideration. As such, it is very effective. It is very well-acted, especially during the scenes that are hard to watch. Things are stepped up in the last ten or so minutes - what a great conclusion!

andy-j gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 29 Apr 2005

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