Film Review

    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
    against children.

    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
    abused children.

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