Rob K. from HALF MOON BAY, CA Reviewed on 1/30/2014...
Kevin Bacon deserved an award for his acting in this film and Kyra Sedgwick also did a fantastic job with her character. Certainly a difficult film topic to watch but all the actors were very, very good.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Mamie H. (towncar1997) from TAHLEQUAH, OK Reviewed on 10/8/2009...
This is one Movie that will stay with you for a long time! The turmoil that men live with that prey on children is horrible. Do the desires ever stop??
4 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Little Red Riding Hood
Jonathan Appleseed | 01/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As I left the theater, I thought to myself: How am I going to write this review? This movie needs to be experienced, to be felt. Then when I looked at the other reviews here on Amazon, I saw that the "experiences" were already covered in detail, so I decided that gave me some leeway.
This is a film about a pedophile, and the struggles he experiences after his release from prison, both with the people in his life and the emotions that boil inside of him. My review is going to focus mainly on the specific events involving him and his pedophilia.
Many viewers likely have difficulty separating the fiction of the movie from the reality of the horrors of child molestation, which probably explains its dismal rating (currently 5.6 out of 10) on pro.imdb.com (the professional version of the Internet Movie Database). They probably feel disgust - and they *should* feel disgust. There is no worse crime than stealing the life of a child. This film was also shunned by the Golden Globes, which means it will likely receive no nods from the Academy, which is much more conservative. That is a pity, because at the very least Kevin Bacon puts on an amazing performance deserves at least a nomination.
Walter (Bacon) is acutely aware of his disease, and he despises himself for it. One can see it in the self-hatred in his eyes, and in the gruff manner in which he treats others. The gruffness, however, probably arose from spending twelve years in prison, where even amongst criminals there is a code of honor: murder, rape, thieve all you want - just never, ever molest a child. While it's never discussed, we can assume that Walter himself was horrifically abused during those twelve years.
Somewhat unbelievably, upon Walter's release from prison, he secures an apartment that is directly across from an elementary school, although it is explained that no other landlord would take his money. His brother-in-law brings him a table, which Walter made as a wedding present for his sister and brother-in-law. Carlos (Benjamin Bratt) says that he's returning it to please his wife. We understand that means that Walter's sister has such hatred, disdain, and an inability to forgive him that she wants nothing of his in her house. Walter places the table in front of a window that overlooks the school's playground, where he either watches, or writes in a journal, which his therapist encouraged him to do. In that journal he speaks of his continuing struggle with his attraction to young girls - and also the very conspicuous stalking of an obvious child molester who is interested in boys. Walter records him in his journal as "candy", and one wonders why Walter doesn't immediately turn him in. He certainly has the opportunity, as he has assigned parole as well as a Sergeant that visits him from time to time to make him feel who takes it upon himself to make Walter feel even worse about himself. Perhaps Walter never turned on "candy" because he still found himself entranced by young girls. That is understandable, even if it is disgusting and revolting.
We also know that he is aware of his abnormality because he speaks of it to his therapist, saying on repeated occasions that he wants to be normal - and normal for him means "looking at a girl and not..." He leaves it at that, but we know what he means. He wants desperately to look at a girl - between the ages of 10 and 12 - and have no desires for her.
Although never directly discussed in the film, there is a scene with his therapist that very strongly suggests a sexual relation between him and his sister, and this likely explains his very specific age range. The therapist asks for his first recollection of sexual feelings, and Walter describes an event where he was taking a nap with his sister and smelling her hair. He was six, and she was four. Walter repeated several times that he enjoyed smelling her hair. The therapist asked him how this progressed over time, and when the age that the therapist approached began to touch on the limits of the girls Walter molested, Walter began to cry and ultimately refused to continue. One can only imagine what took place between the two of them, but whatever it is, Walter's self-reproach is plain. It's also one of the best acted spots in the film.
Walter takes the bus to work, and the bus serves as a catalyst for two things. First, a relationship with a woman (played by Kyra Sedgwick, Bacon's wife) who herself was sexually abused by her brothers when she was younger. When she shares that with Walter, he says to her, "You must hate them". Her reply explains her relationship with him: "No, I love all of them". How she found the ability to forgive them we never know. These situations are complicated.
Second, a young girl rides the bus that he finds attractive. One day he doesn't get off at his stop and he follows her into a park where she's looking at birds. He strikes up a conversation with her, and it's very difficult as an audience member to watch this dialogue. Part of you can't help but care about Walter, because even though you know he has molested young girls (and therefore a part of you loathes him), you see the burning desire for redemption within him and you want him to succeed at becoming "normal". The girl breaks off the conversation and leaves, but not uncomfortably - in fact, she seems very comfortable with him. Nevertheless, Walter wears his guilt like the weight of a galaxy on his shoulders, and he slumps home.
A jealous girl who he originally shunned found out that he was a child molester, and started distributing flyers around the lumberyard where he works with his picture and the nature of his offense. The guys jump on him, he gets slugged a time or two in the gut, and while he originally goes on the floor to work, he walks off early, and finds himself back in the park where he talked to the birdwatcher. He sits on a bench, ostensibly waiting for her to come, and eventually she does, sitting down beside him. Then begins the most uncomfortable part of the film. After some conversation, Walter asks her age (that's part of his M.O. - establish their age), and then asks if she wants to sit on his lap. You can almost hear the collective groan in the theater when he asks this, because you can feel him slipping away into the darkness of his disease again - and we know that if he molests this girl, or even if he is seen sitting next to her, never mind with her on his lap, that he is going back to jail. She says no, and a look of regret and longing wash over Walter's face. Then he asks if her Daddy lets her sit in his lap. She says yes, and he asks if she likes it. And here's the surprise: she says no, and starts to cry.
I'm going to leave it at that, because that in itself is divulging too much of what I feel needs to be experienced. The only other thing I'll say is that the sergeant who is assigned to him shared with him a metaphor earlier in the film, that of the woodsman from Little Red Riding Hood. The woodsman was the character who cut Little Red Riding Hood out of the wolves belly.
The girl on the bus, the birdwatcher, wore a red cape-like jacket. "
Incredible script...superb acting
Timothy P. Scanlon | Hyattsville, MDUSA | 01/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, that the film is about a pedophile has already been covered. (At least one reviewer called pedophila a "disease." Since I object to the over-use of that word, I didn't like that review much.)
Bacon plays a guy who just got out of 12 years of prison after having "molested girls," as he himself says to a young woman colleague who takes a liking to him.
Bacon's acting is spectacular. You can see he's struggling with his condition, probably asking himself why he seems driven to it. He continues to ask--of himself and his therapist, "When will I be normal?"
As a favor, he gets a job in a lumber mill. A young black woman takes a liking to him. When he doesn't return the attraction, she goes on the web and finds that he's a convicted child molestor, then exposes him as such, excusing her personal vendetta in that, "They [the other employees] need to know about him." The script cleverly fit in that some other employees were the parents of young girls whom they adored; they, of course, were the ones particulary incensed when they found out the Bacon character was a pedophile.
Later in the script, Bacon exposes his struggle to his brother in law, also the fawning father of a young daughter. The brother on law says that if Bacon even thinks of doing anything with his daughter, he'll kill him.
The sister, by the way, wouldn't even communicate with Bacon any more. She has a distant appearance at the end of the film, a symbol, in essence, that his will be a long term recovery process, of his struggle with pedophilia AND his 12 years in prison.
One of the scenes that moved me was when Bacon met a young girl in the park. She was a bird watcher. Bacon asked her if she'd like to sit on his lap--the watcher anticipates that regression, I did anyway. Then the young girl says no, and starts to cry. It seems her father has her "do that" at times. Ah. So maybe the Bacon character isn't as "abnormal" as he thinks! (I recalled in that scene a conversation I had with a good friend nearly 30 years ago. He ran an institution for kids and denied my stereotype at the time, that incest/pedophilia was something you'd find in the rural South among the uneducated. He'd found that it's more common than many would think among those of whom we don't hear because their warm, close, middle-class families would never talk about it, even if they know anything about it!)
The woman colleague, with whom he's moving in at the end, was perhaps his saving grace. She cares for him, led him through some hard parts of the story despite his having rejected her (assuming, it seems, that she'd already rejected him as so many others had.)
Yes, it's a disturbing story, not just from the standpoint of a repulsive condition such as pedophilia, but from the way we treat prisoners.
Bacon's acting was so outstanding, I'm astonished that he hasn't been nominated at Best Actor. (One reviewer said the academy found the film too distasteful for that. I'm inclined to want to pick up the play; if nothing else, I'd like to see how it transformed from a play into a fine film.
Don't underestimate the quality of the film/story because of the academy's ignoring it. It's an excellent film for which the actors and director should be recognized."
EXTREMELY CHALLENGING, BUT AMAZING FILM.
Darth J | Somewhere In Time | 02/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Woodsman is a 2004 movie by first time director Nicole Kassel and stars Kevin Bacon, Kira Sedgwick, Eve, Mos Def, and Benjamin Brath. Make no mistake about this, This IS an extremely hard movie to watch! It deals with pedophilia head-on, and you WILL find this movie disturbing.
The movie jumps right into the life of Walter(Kevin Bacon), A convicted pedophile just released after 12 years in prison. Walter finds the only place that would rent an Apt. to him is right across the street from a school(Yes, this does happen). Walter finds work at a lumber yard with an understanding boss(David Allen Grier), A friendly secretary(Eve), and a 'tough girl' co-worker Viki(Sedgwick). Walter is completely detached from the world, and the only member of his family that will have contact with him is his brother-in-law Carlos(Benjamin Bratt). He shys away from Eve's attemps at friendship, but seems attracted to Viki, and this leads to spending time together, which leads to sleeping together. In conversation after being 'together' Walter reveals his secret, which does not have a good outcome. As the movie progresses, it becomes a major struggle for Walter to ajust to life(as others find out), as well as overcoming his still present attraction to children, and to understand why he is 'sick'.
It's very hard to articulate how I feel about this movie. I found it VERY uncomfortable and disturbing, but at the same time I was compelled to watch because it's so well made.
The story is very real! This is subject matter that is, for the most part, taboo and not done in the movie indusry very often. When watching this, you will have to constantly remind yourself that this is a movie, and this is from a first time director! It is told thru Walter's point-of-view and is more about him trying to re-ajust after serving his time and some might interpret this to be 'sympathetic'.
Perfect doesn't even begin to describe the acting! Kevin Bacon gives the performance of his career! He is a well known actor, but is able to lule you into a false sence of realism. Walter is(justifiably so)trapped in a life mundane and completely void of the things that make life worth living, and Bacon pulls this off very passionatly. Kira Sedgwick gives an equally astonishing performance as an emotionaly scarred woman who is attracted to Walter, and ultimately Bonds with him. Benjamin Bratt is solid as Walter's brother-in-law and besides Viki, is probably the only one who cares.
The editing is great. The movie moves at a good pace, and builds up tension. When the movie first starts, we see Walter's day-to-day life that consists of work, visits from his probation officer, visits to a psychologist, and sitting at his desk staring at the school across the street. Little by little we learn about Walter's mind, and what he did. Like I mentioned, this movie has a build-up effect, and one scene in peticular builds up to a profoundly disturbing point! So much so that I can imagine someone throwing their remote at the television. Make no mistake about it, this scene WILL anger you, but you must admire the acting, editing, and the director's uncompromising vision. If this scene weren't so disturbing, I would say it was Kevin Bacon's defining moment as an actor.
This is a hard movie to watch, but an outstanding effort of those involved. The thing that has me completely puzzled is that I feel no sympathy for those who commit crimes against children, but by the end of the movie, I felt empathy for Walter??(Empathy, NOT Sympathy, just wanted to be clear on that one)I don't understand why, but that's the sign of a great film. For movie buffs this is a must see, but once may be more than enough for some viewers."
"I'm not a monster"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Taking its name from the character from Little Red Riding Hood, this thought provoking, slick film deserves high praise, and kudos must be given to director Nicole Kassell, for tackling such a controversial topic. But admiration should be mostly reserved for The Woodsman's lead actor Kevin Bacon. He gives an absolutely astounding performance and he really should be accepting the golden statuette for Best Actor on Oscar night. He most likely won't - but he should. Complete with a grey, sickly pallor and sunken cheeks, he furiously inhabits all the frustrations, desires, and pent-up angst of a man who is given a second chance through freedom and who is trying desperately to achieve redemption. This is a slick, somber, and totally involving movie where life is hard, and where the terrible mistakes of the past are inescapable.
Walter (Kevin Bacon) has just been released from prison after twelve years. He was convicted of child sex offenses, but now he has been given a second chance. He's adjusting to his new job at a lumberyard and has found an apartment across the street from an elementary school. He regularly visits his psychiatrist and his loyal brother-in-law (Benjamin Bratt) drops by for a beer from time to time out of a sense of family loyalty. An eerily reflective police officer, Inspector Javert (Mos Def) also visits him. Inspector Javert, burned out by the horrors of the job sees Walter as a freak and doesn't trust that he will stay straight.
Walter walks through life as a solitary, sad individual attempting to wall up his predatory addictions. He eats lunch alone at work, and catches the bus home. But he's a character who gains our sympathy, particularly when he attempts to pick up the pieces of his life and starts a tentative romance with Vickie (a wonderful Kyra Sedgwick), who sticks with him even after she learns the worst. Both Vickie and Walter are damaged goods, and there's a real sense of two disparate, broken souls finding each other.
One of the great attributes of this film is that Walter is never judged. He's never romanticized or transformed into a leering villain, especially during one pivotal scene where he befriends a little girl in the park (an amazing Hannah Pilkes). The viewer is encouraged to have a mixture of reactions to him - disgust, empathy, sadness, and melancholy. The people that Walter meets all react to his situation in quite different ways, some are sympathetic, while others are appalled, and some merely pay him lip service while failing to truly understand his conflicted desires and needs.
The atmosphere of austere urban grimness effectively adds to the story and also to Walter's interminable suffering. Kevin Bacon should be commended for taking on a difficult role. He gives us a complex, unsettling, and quite startling performance that is full of haunting emotional nuances. And the performance does much to bring us closer to understanding how these people think and operate. What is also remarkable is that Bacon has found a way, without the slightest hint of vanity or ostentation, to convey the inner life of a man who is almost entirely shut down. This is an uncompromising, character-driven story told with intelligence, restraint, and honest emotional clarity, and it is without a doubt one of the best films of the year. Mike Leonard December 04. "
Tough-Minded Minor Masterpiece
El Lagarto | Sandown, NH | 03/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By treating them like adults, able to witness unsentimental reality with open eyes and minds, this film pays viewers the ultimate compliment. The Woodsman is a searing character study certain to prompt serious, troubling, and important questions. Unlike so many movies that treat sexuality, even grotesque sexuality, like a commodity, tinsel to be casually strewn about the set, there is absolutely nothing sexual about The Woodsman. It is one man's tale, told calmly, deliberately, and without prejudice.
The director, Nicole Kassell, does not invite sympathy or contempt; she simply lets Walter's life unfold through a series of small, carefully constructed scenes, each giving way to the next with the minimalist precision of a play. Newly out of prison, having served his sentence for a crime involving pedophilia, Walter is now faced with the unimaginably difficult challenge of finding a way back into society. Bacon is a consistently workmanlike actor who is never bad, usually good, and almost never great. (His porcine nose, ironically appropriate considering his name, makes him inappropriate for leading man roles reliant on good looks.) However, The Woodsman finds Bacon delivering the performance of a lifetime, made palpable because his craft is almost completely invisible.
All of Walter's rage, self-loathing, fear of the outside world, fear of himself, shame, pain, regret, and sorrow boil beneath his desperately controlled persona, deceptively shy and laconic. Vickie, real life wife Kyra Sedgwick, is excellent as the one person who slips through the veneer and touches this damaged, and damaging, human soul. Mos Def is equally on point as Walter's parole officer, casually expressing the contempt every viewer feels, inviting us to speculate just how vigorously we might express that contempt.
That Walter vents his self-hatred by acting out and terrorizing another of his kind, that his secret is discovered at work leading to cruel repercussions, that he must face his inner darkness once more (in the movie's most heartbreaking and spellbinding scene); these are merely plot points. There's very little story here, very little action, not even much in the way of resolution. What there is in its place is genius, on so many levels. Script, acting, directing, even cinematography.
The Woodsman is a blunt and quiet picture about a difficult subject relayed with an austere sensibility. This is what movie making could be - if movies were made by adults, for adults. Highly recommended."