Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2004. Dash Films, Lee Daniels Entertainment, The Woodsman LLC. Screenplay by Nicole Kassell, Steven Fechter, based on the play by Steven Fechter. Cinematography by Xavier Grobet. Produced by Lee Daniels. Music by Nathan Larson. Production Design by Stephen Beatrice. Costume Design by Frank L. Fleming. Film Editing by Lisa Fruchtman, Brian A. Kates. Toronto International Film Festival 2004.
Kevin Bacon‘s deep,-under-the-skin performance is the best thing about this strangely disaffecting drama. He plays a convicted child molester who is released on parole into a harsh world that seems never to want to forgive him. He meets a woman (Kyra Sedgwick) at his workplace who finds good in him even after she finds out about his past, but it is Bacon’s own demons that he has to face if he’s ever going to become a trustworthy member of society. Nicole Kassell’s directorial debut is impressive for avoiding a lot of melodramatic cliches and for its non-judgemental approach to all sides of the story, but it also relies on too much film-school symbolism (a bird-watching girl named Robin, for example). Bacon and Sedgwick (married in real life) have terrific chemistry on screen, and achieve quite a lot with their roles (especially considering how slim hers is), but Kassell only really skims the surface of where this story could possibly go. The film should have taken you more places emotionally than it actually does, but is worth seeing for her excellent, dramatic pacing and probing sense of character development.