Edge

MOVIE REVIEW – The Woodsman tackles a strong issue

Movies have become so predictable these days that whenever someone tries something even remotely different, it’s billed as brave and edgy. A sad ending, for instance, is not a great and daring choice, but a simple aspect of storytelling. There are rare movies, however, that do deserve to be heralded for their bravery, and The Woodsman is the latest example.

The Woodsman stars Kevin Bacon in the lead role as a child molester who has been released from jail and is learning to cope with the real world. Seeing a child molester on screen is not entirely new, as some villains and small characters have been sex offenders in the past. But the reason The Woodsman is so different is that Bacon’s character is not just another pure villain.

The fact that the film takes a neutral look at someone who once committed horrible crimes makes it extremely difficult to deal with. This doesn’t make it bad, however; it actually makes it better. There has never been a film made like this one, and that is a reflection on all the characters, not just Bacon’s.

The supporting characters in this film are interesting as well. They include Kyra Sedgwick as Bacon’s love interest, Benjamin Bratt as his sympathetic brother-in-law, and Mos Def giving a great performance as a suspicious detective. All of them show depth rarely seen from supporting characters. Sedgwick is especially interesting in her role as Bacon’s co-worker turned girlfriend. The fact that she stays with him after finding out about his past shows a lot about her character, a conflicted one as well.

Although there are some great supporting parts, the film belongs to Bacon. Despite past mistakes (Hollow Man), Bacon has proved himself to be a solid actor with roles in top-notch films like JFK, A Few Good Men, Apollo 13 and Mystic River. But he has never been as good as he is in The Woodsman.

His character is soft-spoken and quiet, allowing Bacon to convey many of his emotions through his facial expressions and body movements. There are a few scenes with Bacon that are completely terrifying in a dramatic sense, instead of the usual suspense or horror scariness. This is a tribute both to Bacon and writer/director Nicole Kassell, a first-timer destined for greatness.

One of the most interesting aspects of The Woodsman is its lack of classic character values. None of the main characters can be classified as pure good guys or bad guys. They are all a mixture of the two, something rarely seen in any kind of story, not just movies. Bacon is not a malicious man, but a shy, disturbed one. He clearly has a disease and he knows how horrible it is; thankfully, the film doesn’t beg for sympathy. He fights his urge throughout the film, and the few scenes in which he actually talks to young girls inspire gasps from the audience.

The film attempts to be neutral to its topic, but in order to present a watchable narrative film, it has to lean slightly towards Bacon’s side of things. The Woodsman instead tries to get inside the mind of a man guilty of what could be the worst crime imaginable. The most important thing is that it succeeds.

Shawn Wines can be contacted at s.wines@umiami.edu.

January 25, 2005

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It could be a fruitful year for the Miami Hurricanes in the 2019 NFL Draft. NFL Draft analyst Mel Ki ...

A quick six-pack off UM coach Manny Diaz’s conversation with Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. on WQAM’ ...

UM was very fortunate that junior linebackers Shaquille Quarterman, Mike Pinckney and Zach McCloud a ...

Hard Rock Stadium will be filled with Miami fans — and probably only Miami fans — when the two colle ...

They made school history on Sunday with a nationally-televised road upset of No. 2 Louisville, and o ...

UM public health experts try to help tackle Venezuela’s ongoing health care crisis. ...

The Ring Theatre’s contemporary reworking of Molière’s “The Misanthrope” showcases the skills of UM’ ...

Miami Law’s Frances Hill answers key questions about the National Emergencies Act. ...

Researcher Rebecca Bulotsky Shearer is leading a study aimed at increasing the number of kids who ar ...

UM alumna Alina Mayo Azze, who has covered a myriad of topics during her 37-year career, has been a ...

The Hurricanes will wrap up a four-game homestand with a midweek game against FAU on Wednesday at 6 ...

The No. 14 Miami women's basketball team is set to cap its longest road stretch of the season T ...

The No. 25-ranked University of Miami golf team closed out the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegi ...

The University of Miami swimming & diving team begins its run at the 2019 ACC Swimming & Div ...

For the second week in a row, the Miami women's basketball team made the largest leap of any sc ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.