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The Woodsman

Nicole Kassell

The Woodsman
Though you have to give The Woodsman top marks for its brave depiction of a sympathetic child molester, its probing of the grey areas that allow him back into society stops dead when it comes to answering its own questions. Kevin Bacon is fresh out of jail after a stint for molesting prepubescent girls; he tries to go about his business, but the stigma attached to his crimes make it impossible to go back to a normal life. He has a couple of defenders (David Alan Grier's mum employer; Kyra Sedgewick's strangely unfazed girlfriend), but his secret is leaking out and his barely-repressed desires are coming back to haunt him. To be fair, the film does its best to elude the hysteria that normally heralds the subject, but that doesn't mean it actually succeeds; it merely inverts the standard self-righteous chest-beating, filling us with the same frenzied emotions with just as little intellectual payoff. There's some disturbing stuff here, and a couple of standout supporting performances (particularly Mos Def as the obligatory unsympathetic cop), but it's impossible to divine a position beyond "support your local sex offender." Worse, the puzzling climax contradicts everything that came before it and offers an easy out for a protagonist whose motives ought to be better fleshed out. We probably aren't at a point where this subject can be handled without people freaking out, but this unconsidered screed isn't going to get us there any faster. Extras include a packed commentary with director Nicole Kassell that's loaded with insight on the research and details about the production, a brief interview with producer Lee Daniels on the difficulty of getting the project off the ground, three deleted scenes, and the trailer. (Alliance Atlantis)
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