Society often hides from the ugliest issues because we wish they would just go away. For this we pretend they don’t exist rather than looking them in the face and searching for a solution. If any movie deserves an award for being the most courageous in this arena, it is certainly The Woodsman.
This 2004 film, starring the married acting couple Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra Sedgwick, takes the most taboo problem in our society and deals with it in a mature and healing manner.
Bacon plays Walter, a convicted child molester who has been in prison for 12 years after being caught molesting young girls. He is released but his friends and family have abandoned him and he must work at a lumber mill, where he eventually meets Vicki (played by Sedgwick).
The movie has an interesting dynamic in that Vicki becomes a love interest of Walter and the two roles are married in true life. Vicki is a tough girl and one of the few women working at the mill. Walter is withdrawn and defensive but she takes a liking to him and a dark but hopeful romance is in bloom.
Walter is receiving frequent visits from a verbally abusive cop (played by Mos Def) at his home. To make matters worse, Walter struggles with the temptations around him including a nearby primary school and a young female bird-watcher who he becomes especially close with near the climax of the movie.
Walter also comes to suspect that another man near his apartment is a child molester and he begins to contemplate two diverging scenarios. Ultimately a refreshing scenario emerges which leads Walter out of a dark fate and into a heroic journey toward recovery.
The film was well-received critically, with Bacon's performance drawing exceptional praise. It was also nominated for the "Grand Jury Prize" award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, won the "Jury Special Prize" at the Deauville Film Festival and was a featured film at the 2005 Traverse City Film Festival.
The beauty of the film is that it looks directly into the problem of pedophilia and points the way to a solution rather than shaming the victims who do actually struggle with this terrible condition.
Bacon’s character emerges as a hero and the issue is given new hope in terms of the future of sex offenders around the world. For anyone with an interest in this problem, The Woodsman is certainly the best film to have ever dealt with the issue of pedophilia.