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THE WOODSMAN

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A standoffish ex-con named Walter (Kevin Bacon) returns to his urban working-class environs and is gradually revealed to have molested little girls. When his lumberyard co-workers -- including his tentative lover, Vickie (Kyra Sedgwick) -- find out, ostracism compounds his struggles against recidivism. Director and co-writer Nicole Kassell's drama is somber and serious-minded, as we're asked to sympathize with Walter yet also constantly reminded that he could do the bad thing again. Bacon, an underrated actor, spends a little too much time gazing out windows, but otherwise crafts a fine performance as a man tormented by both his desire to be normal and his compulsion to transgress. A violently redemptive subplot involving another molester feels a little distracting, but Walter's relationships with Vickie, his sympathetic brother-in-law (Benjamin Bratt) and a nosy cop (Mos Def) encapsulate the film's tensions effectively.

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