(Review originally written at 25 September 2005)

Pedophillia is perhaps still the only remaining taboo that hasn't been fully broken in the world of movies. Over the years already lots of taboo's has been broken in movies; Homosexuality, a look into the life and mind of a real serial killer, sex in movies, transvestitism, just to name a few subjects. Most of these subjects took years to be fully broken. "The Woodsman" is one of the first true attempts to handle the subject of pedophilia, in the way as it does in this movie. It provides us a view in the life of a pedophile and helps us more to understand what it is that drives him.

Yes, it does give us a good view into the life of a pedophile. The main character in the movie hates himself for being a pedophile and wants to be 'normal'. However the urge to be around children is simply incontrollable for him and even though he doesn't want to, he can't restrain himself. It is mainly thanks to Kevin Bacon's performance that helps us to understand his character. The pain and perhaps also embarrassment is notable in his eyes, in every movement he makes and action he takes. An even better performance is given by Kyra Sedgwick, who isn't a very well known actress and her perhaps only true mainstream movie is "Born on the Fourth of July". Bacon and Sedgewick are in real life perhaps the only still truly happily married Hollywood-couple around.

The subject is groundbreaking but the movie most certainly isn't. The movie is less than 90 minutes short which simply isn't enough to provides us with a full understanding view of a pedophile. It also never goes really far enough and it feels like the movie is restraining itself. Even though it is a shocking subject, the movie itself never shocks. There also are too many underdeveloped side plot-lines, such as the whole thing with the 'Candy' character. Yes, I do realize and understand that lots of elements in the movie were supposed to be symbolic and were to be left unexplained but it doesn't do much good for what the movie truly tries to achieve; to provides us a good, realistic and UNDERSTANDABLE view into the life and mind of a pedophile.

It's obvious that Nicole Kassell is still a beginning director that doesn't have much experience yet. She is obviously still in search for the good and right style for her movies. She is close but not quite there yet. I'm interested to see how her style develops and I am looking forward to her new projects, because it's obvious that she has talent. It's obvious for this movie that she was inspired by the Nicolas Roeg movie "Don't Look Now" (1973). It's filled with a sort of similar atmosphere and way of story telling and also has symbolism in it. She even tries to recreate the famous sex scene from the Nicolas Roeg movie.

This movie is a good real first step of breaking the taboo and mysteries surrounding the pedophilia subject. Without a doubt, more movies like this one, about the same subject will be made in the near future. Maybe not in 2 or 3 years but certainly within 5 or 10 from now.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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