Kevin Bacon, an indispensable fixture of American cinema over the past 20 years, delivers his finest performance in The Woodsman, a harrowing and moving tale of one man’s attempt to re-enter society.
After twelve years in prison, Walter (Bacon) arrives in an unnamed city, moves into a small apartment across the street from an elementary school, gets a job at a lumberyard, and mostly keeps to himself. A quiet, guarded man, Walter finds unexpected solace from Vickie (Kyra Sedgwick), a tough-talking woman who promises not to judge him for his history. But Walter cannot escape his past. A convicted sex offender, Walter is warily eyed by his brother-in-law (Benjamin Bratt), shunned by his sister, lives in fear of being discovered at work, and is hounded by a suspicious local police office, Detective Lucas (Mos Def). After befriending a young girl in a neighborhood park, Walter must also grapple with the terrible prospect of his own reawakened demons.
The Woodsman — based on a play of the same name, directed by Nicole Kassell produced by Lee Daniels, to be distributed domestically by Newmarket Films — is an unnerving, ultimately hopeful portrait of compulsion and hard-won redemption.