The Woodman (15)
Directed by Nicole Kassell
On general release
Star Rating: 2/5
The Woodsman reaches cinemas laden with awards, even if
star and executive producer Kevin Bacon’s Oscar nomination didn’t
materialise, writes Terry Philpot. One can understand the plaudits.
This is a sympathetic attempt to depict the story of Walter (Bacon)
who is released on parole from a 12-year sentence for sex offences
He gets a job in a saw-mill and starts a relationship with a
feisty, troubled young woman (Kyra Sedgwick, the real life Mrs
Bacon). This strikes the first false note because he asks his
therapist, “When will I be normal?” when confessing his continuing
attraction to young girls. The other early warning that there’s
less to this film than meets the eye is the fact that his apartment
overlooks a school.
Walter’s policeman is foul and loud mouthed, his therapy is not
in a group, and there is no other support offered to him. There is
no suggestion of Walter’s own abuse, and his character and that of
the man he watches watching children at the school suggests that
stranger danger is the real problem, although his girlfriend tells
him that she was abused by her brothers.
Bacon’s quiet, undemonstrative acting says much about who Walter
is and feels himself to be. But that and the well-meaning
intentions of the film are not enough to compensate for the fact
that it is deeply flawed and does very little to clear up the
misconceptions about child sex offenders.
Terry Philpot is writing a book about therapy with