With a 12-year prison stretch reaching an end, convicted pedophile Walter (Kevin Bacon) faces an uncertain walk back into the free world in THE WOODSMAN.
Attempting to keep his previous indiscretions sheltered from prying eyes, Walter tries to piece together his shattered life by finding a job and an apartment. The first task is relatively simple, with the ex-con finding employment at a lumberyard thanks to his natural talent for woodcraft. An apartment comes less easily, but Walter manages to secure a roof over his head in a building, which--in a cruel twist of irony--is located opposite an elementary school. Walter's brother-in-law Carlos (Benjamin Bratt) remains the only member of his family willing to keep in contact with him; his sister refuses all communication. Meanwhile, Sgt. Lucas (Mos Def) keeps a watchful eye over Walter's activities, while Walter makes faltering strides towards romance with his tough-as-nails co-worker, Vickie (Kyra Sedgwick). But as wary neighbors steel worried glances and make small-town gossip about him, Walter finds it inordinately difficult to keep his past life a secret. For this reformed character, the path to redemption comes strewn with cracked paving stones, which need to be carefully navigated with every tentative step he takes.
The sensitivity with which the material in THE WOODSMAN is executed derives from a potent mix of intelligently written source material, wonderful performances (with Bacon in particular putting in a career-defining turn), and an authoritative vision from director Nicole Kassell (The Green Hour). At the heart of the movie lies a desolate character, guilty of a crime shrouded in taboo, but hoping against all reason that society will accord him a modicum of absolution. A fascinating portrait of a life caught in a state of perpetual turmoil, this is an audacious second feature from Kassell.