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The Woodsman

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Jan
The Woodsman
from Film Forum, 01/06/05

Nicole Kassell's directorial debut,The Woodsman, will probably not draw big crowds because of its volatile subject matter. But it is drawing critical acclaim. The film may be about monstrous behavior, but instead of portraying its central character—a convicted child molester—as a monster, it portrays him as a human being who, like any sinner, must strive to overcome his weakness.

Kevin Bacon stars as a pedophile who tries to start a new life after finishing a 12-year prison sentence. Bacon's wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, plays the part of the woman who finds compassion for him and tries to help him overcome his weaknesses. But when he moves in to a house across from an elementary school, he must struggle to resist the temptations to fall back into a life of crime.

Harry Forbes (Catholic News Service) says, "The subject of pedophilia is so repellent that the mere theme may be a turnoff to many moviegoers, but if you can get past that The Woodsman is a mesmerizing, if somber, story." He calls Bacon's performance "extraordinary." He writes, "Kassell's compelling drama … provides genuine insight into the mind-set of a pedophile, without glamorizing the crime or making Bacon's character unduly sympathetic, though the occasionally stagy dialogue betrays the script's theatrical origins. The film concludes on an appropriately redemptive note."