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The Woodsman
DVD disk
04.22.2005 By: Scott Weinberg
The Woodsman order
Director:
Nicole Kassell

Actors:
Kevin Bacon
Kyra Sedgwick
Mos Def

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A convicted pedophile tries to resume some type of "normal life" after spending twelve years in prison, but he has to contend with estranged siblings, untrusting co-workers, a tentative romance, and the possibility of future...unpleasantness.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Well, THE WOODSMAN is not exactly a "fun" movie, but it certainly is a quality movie. Told with a palpable sense of moodiness and deliberation, Nicole Kassell's tale of a child molester in search of some sense of normalcy is gripping, sparse, and absolutely engrossing. Look past the seemingly unpleasant subject matter and you'll be able to appreciate this insightful character study quite easily. That THE WOODSMAN marks Kassell's directorial debut is fairly alarming; the movie is that confident and chilling.

Although THE WOODSMAN is very well-written and smoothly directed (in a subdued sort of way), I suspect the movie will earn most of its praise because it houses one seriously excellent performance by Kevin Bacon. While his effort here comes as no surprise (the guy's done a lot of great work over the years), Bacon delivers a performance that's both quietly commanding and surprisingly sympathetic - which is a tough act to balance when you're asked to play a confessed pedophile. You'll find yourself feeling for this guy ... even though you know you probably shouldn't.

As usual, Bacon is flanked by his real-life wife Kyra Sedgwick, which is cool because she's a damn fine actor in her own right. The supporting cast is completely strong across the board, although I was most impressed by Mos Def and his performance as a coolly intimidating police sergeant.
THE EXTRAS
Audio Commentary with writer/director Nicole Kassell: The young filmmaker discusses all things "Woodsman" related - from the source material (a play by Stephen Fechter) to why she chose to adapt it. Ms. Kassell rambles quite smoothly and delivers a lot of great information about the casting, Kevin Bacon's involvement, the Philadelphia shoot, and the anticipated reactions to such volatile subject matter. Very few slow spots in this track, and it's always great to hear war stories from a passionate first-time filmmaker.

Deleted & Extended Scenes: A trio of sections cut from the final film: "Walter and Vicki Almost Break Up" didn't make it into the movie at all, while "Walter and Vicki at the River" and "Walter and Robin in Park #2" had brief moments snipped here and there. All feature great work from Bacon (not a shock), but were probably cut for good reason.

"Getting It Made" Featurette: This five-minute sit-down with producer Lee Daniels brings us the "Woodsman" backstory from script to casting to financing. It's a brief-yet-informative reminder of how most indie flicks get made ... if they're lucky.

Trailers: Theatrical trailers for The Woodsman, A Love Song for Bobby Long, D.E.B.S., Boogeyman, Imaginary Heroes, Silver City, and The Merchant of Venice.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The Woodsman is a brave film. It tries to make the case that while child molesters are certainly dangerous and troubled souls, that doesn't make them the one-note "monsters" we like to think they are. The DVD comes with a handful of insightful extras and the audio/video quality is more than adequate. Give it a rent if you want some challenging adult material that will give you something to think about.
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