THE WOODSMAN is a deeply felt, deeply disturbing movie about an ex-con child molestor trying to go straight after 12 years of jail. Kevin Bacon is the child molestor. Kyra Sedgewick is the woman who falls in love with him.
It's deeply disturbing because the movie is sympathetic to a guy who's still attracted to underage girls. It's interesting because director Nicole Kassell trusts the viewer to make the most of Bacon and Sedgewick's extremely subtle and underplayed moments on screen, and Kassell and playwright Stephen Fechter's script trusts the viewer to make the most of dialog that says the minimum directly.
Movies this underplayed sometimes bug me; sometimes it like a cop-out. The director doesn't want to tell the audience what to think, but winds up not telling the audience what the story is. But with material this alarming, it's probably wise to avoid anything that's the least bit showy for fear it will be exploitative. I mean, this is a movie where we're wondering all along if Bacon's character -- who we're meant to root for -- is going to backslide and we're going to have to watch him molest another girl.
I found the movie hard to watch, in a good way. I'm not really scared by monster movies. But the protagonist in this story is somewhere between hero and monster in a very human and convincing way; and that is far scarier. Check it out.
Labels: film reviews
I watched this a good year or two ago, and it has stuck with me as an excellent example of a writer accomplishing what I only imagine myself pulling off some day. It is almost soul-crushing to watch the second half -- where we have begun to feel for his situation at the same time we KNOW he is way too close to the playground. The triumph of the ending is all the more satisfying, almost profoundly so.
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