The Woodsman

The Woodsman stars Kevin Bacon and his real-life wife Kyra Sedgwick. Bacon plays a paedophile that has been released from jail after 12 years. He starts work at a timber factory and is given a place to stay at, which is ironically opposite a children’s school He meets this woman at the work place and they embark on a dangerous love affair, and once he discloses why he was in jail, their love story takes a tumble. All the while, there is an officer who visits Bacon regularly to monitor his progress and all. Will the woman stay in his life? Will Bacon succumb to temptations? Will he be successfully treated of his sickness? Will the small schoolgirl he meets damage him and her?

This movie is not for the faint-hearted, or for the squeamish. The subject matter is such that its not comfortable viewing. The movie takes us into a mind of a pedophile and the struggles he undergoes. They are, after all, humans as well. Just because they do something which is not accepted by society does not mean they should cursed and banished. Bacon does a superb portrayal of a man stuck between his desires to be healed and temptations that draw him closer to some of the school kids. One scene, in particular, totally riveted me and I was so uncomfortable. Bacon sees this one girl, who goes to the local park/ woods to do some bird watching. Bacon follows her one day and they strike up a conversation. It is finally revealed that the girl gets no attention from her father, and so she enjoys Bacon’s company. Bacon finally asks the girl, “Would you like to sit on my lap?” I won’t tell you, because you have to see it to see the powerful drama. The whole set up is one disturbing, unsettling scene.

I think it was a great movie because it deals with a subject matter that is taboo, and yet pretty much existence. The acting is controlled, and well acted, and Bacon does a great job of drawing sympathy, as well as hatred, for the way the character thinks. We want for him to succeed and overcome his disease, yet we also hate him for what he does to little children. In the whole movie, there are no scenes between Bacon and any kids, save for one I mentioned above. This movie is not about pedophilia or abuse of children; it’s about what a pedophile goes through in his mind. It carefully draws a line between sympathizing and chastising Bacon’s character. We are not asked to show our support for him, yet we are not asked to shun him. We are simply asked to see who he is and the struggles he has to face. A brave, strong and well-intentioned movie.

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