Sex offending is one of the toughest subjects you can tackle in a film, but there are some great examples of how to do it right. Films like Michael, Mysterious Skin and Little Children. And The Woodsman is another good example.
In one of his most challenging roles, Kevin Bacon plays convicted paedophile Walter, who works in a lumber yard after serving a 12 year sentence for child abuse. Bacon isn’t an actor who needs to go outside of his comfort zone like this, and that he chose this kind of role is admirable. He does a superb job with the character, with his anguish-filled, downtrodden expression usually reserved for those who have had to sit through those awful adverts he’s in.
Films like this have to walk a narrow line between showing the human side of someone most of society would simply brand a monster, and being too sympathetic, failing to show the magnitude of the impact the offender has on their victims. But with Bacon’s sensitive portrayal of this character, struggling to do the right thing, The Woodsman walks this line well.
This is a well handled, well directed film, that makes you think as well as providing a compelling human drama.