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The Woodsman (2004)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 130
Fresh: 114 | Rotten: 16

Kevin Bacon's performance as a pedophile who is trying to start fresh has drawn raves from critics, who have praised the Woodsman as compelling, creepy, complex and well-crafted.


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 36
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 4

Kevin Bacon's performance as a pedophile who is trying to start fresh has drawn raves from critics, who have praised the Woodsman as compelling, creepy, complex and well-crafted.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 20,327

My Rating

Movie Info

After twelve years in prison, Walter 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, 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, shunned by his sister, lives in fear of being discovered at



Steven Fechter, Nicole Kassell

Apr 12, 2005


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February 3, 2006:
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December 16, 2004:
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All Critics (140) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (114) | Rotten (16) | DVD (25)

A lean and unapologetic piece about a type of person too often rendered in simplistic 'monster' colors.

April 8, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Comment (1)
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Ms. Kassell and Mr. Fechter] trick up Walter's character with so many conflicting moods and impulses and then place him within a post-prison society that is itself alternately oppressive and permissive.

January 27, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
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An involving, intense but ultimately confused portrait.

January 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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To watch this picture is to feel, and what you're feeling is an intense swirl of conflicting emotions -- disturbed, creeped-out, sorry, and, yes, even moved.

January 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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A flawed film that's well worth seeing.

January 21, 2005
Detroit News
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It is both difficult to watch and compelling.

January 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press | Comment (1)
Detroit Free Press
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A really intelligent and amazing piece of real filmmaking...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Debut director Nicole Kassell compassionately explores the troubled psyche of a former pedophile struggling with inner demons and external obstacles to lead a normal life.

April 16, 2009 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

A bold and poignantly told tale, nestling into its characters to draw out raw and candidly revealing performances.

May 26, 2007 Full Review
Long Island Press

(...) Aún con su intensidad a medio camino, The Woodsman es un drama maduro, desafiante y revelador de lo que estamos dispuestos a tolerar y/o a perdonar (nos) los seres humanos.

November 14, 2005 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

deals with one disturbing phenomenon in an honest and humane way

October 22, 2005 Full Review Source: Draxblog Movie Reviews

There's certainly a sensitivity and intelligence that went into this psychodrama.

April 26, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Look past the seemingly unpleasant subject matter and you'll be able to appreciate this insightful character study quite easily.

April 22, 2005 Full Review Source: DVD Clinic
DVD Clinic

An uneasy, sometimes difficult film to watch - rare at the movies these days. But as a study in pedophilia, there is plenty to be said for the conversation it ignites.

March 30, 2005
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

... not full of uplift, but it has about it a kind of unholy truth, a worrying seed that isn't rinsed away in a triumphant final act.

March 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

It's a brave choice for an actor, a masterful balancing act by Bacon that makes The Woodsman as insightful as it is disquieting.

February 18, 2005 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

Kevin Bacon makes you feel something unexpected: sympathy for a pedophile.

February 17, 2005 Full Review
Atlantic City Weekly

Bacon, who's a tragically underrated actor, unpeels Walter in layers that are by turns creepy, fascinating, poignant and disturbing.

February 17, 2005 Full Review
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

The Woodsman is a difficult movie to watch, but it's one that cannot be turned away from.

February 8, 2005 Full Review Source: IGN Movies
IGN Movies

The Woodsman does not offer a pleasant night at the movies, but it does provide a thought-provoking experience.

February 7, 2005

This astonishingly accomplished first feature by director and co-writer Nicole Kassell, with an unnerving performance by Kevin Bacon, will haunt you for days.

February 4, 2005
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As distasteful as the concept may be, it's approached with surprising sensitivity and taste.

February 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Unfolds in exactly the way you expect a sensitive Sundance indie to handle this distasteful subject matter...

February 3, 2005
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Kevin Bacon delivers a haunting performance in Nicole Kassell's impressive feature-directorial debut "The Woodsman." **

January 31, 2005 Full Review Source:

Kevin Bacon anchors the film with his deeply humane, but never sentimental performance

January 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for The Woodsman

A child molester adjusts to post-prison life and falls in love with a co-worker.
I applaud Kevin Bacon's choice because this is a ballsy role for a star whose paychecks are secure, but his performance, which is meant to be subtle and aching, comes off like he's squeezing too hard.
The film doesn't make Bacon's Walter a particularly admirable character nor is he someone we might love to hate. Instead, the film's central conflict is about getting Walter to realize the depravity of his own desires, which he does along the way, but his realization doesn't become actionable until the climactic scene. It's an interesting source for conflict, but it doesn't carry a lot of suspense.
Overall, though the film is admirable in its attempt, I wasn't too compelled by the final product.
July 20, 2013
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Kevin Bacon, not a name usually dropped in conversations about great actors, delivers a tightfisted, bravura performance in this conventionally unconventional tale about a child molester's attempt at societal rehabilitation. Kyra Sedgwick is more than able support as the woman who loves him. It's often difficult to watch, so be warned.
January 6, 2012

Super Reviewer

Slow and understated, probably to show the struggles of a very troubled soul, this film offers much to contemplate. There are no easy answers in an issue like the sexual abuse of children, and yet who is good and who is evil is not so clear here in this picture. The one thing that is clear, however, is Kevin Bacon's performance. He played his role beautifully. DIsturbing, yet eye opening film.
November 9, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Walter: I may seem sympathetic but you've never seen me ravaging a child.
    – Submitted by Jesse K (23 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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