The Woodsman

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The Woodsman
The Woodsman movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nicole Kassell
Produced by Lee Daniels
Screenplay by Steven Fechter
Nicole Kassell
Based on The Woodsman 
by Steven Fechter
Starring Kevin Bacon
Kyra Sedgwick
Mos Def
Benjamin Bratt
David Alan Grier
Music by Nathan Larson
Cinematography Xavier Pérez-Grobet
Edited by Lisa Fruchtman
Brian A. Kates
Dash Films
Distributed by Newmarket Films
Release dates
  • December 2004 (2004-12)
Running time
87 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.5 million
Box office $4.7 million[1]

The Woodsman is a 2004 drama film directed and co-written (with Steven Fechter) by Nicole Kassell, based on Fechter's play of the same name. The movie stars Kevin Bacon as a convicted child molester who must adjust to life after prison.


Walter (Kevin Bacon), a convicted child molester, returns home to Philadelphia after serving 12 years in prison. His friends and family have abandoned him, with the exception of his brother-in-law, Carlos (Benjamin Bratt). Walter's apartment is just across the street from an elementary school—an obvious source of temptation. He gets a job at a local lumber mill and meets Vicki (Kyra Sedgwick), one of the few women working there. After sleeping with Vicki, Walter reveals his history of molesting little girls. Vicki is clearly shocked and disturbed by this new information, but before she can consider how to respond to it, Walter tells her to leave his apartment.

Walter receives frequent visits from a suspicious, verbally abusive police officer named Lucas (Mos Def). Lucas makes it clear that he is waiting to catch Walter reoffending. Watching the school, Walter sees a man offering candy to the children in an apparent effort to gain their confidence. He realizes that this man, whom he nicknames "Candy" (Kevin Rice), is another child molester. Walter also meets an apparently lonely young girl named Robin (Hannah Pilkes) who is a bird watcher. Walter sees Candy abduct one of the children; however, he does not report this to the police. Walter's life takes a further downturn when a suspicious co-worker, Mary-Kay (Eve), learns of his conviction and alerts the entire mill. Some of the employees attack Walter, but Vicki and the boss of the mill come to his defense.

Ostracized and frustrated, Walter leaves his workplace and goes to the park. Vicki, fearing the worst, begins to search for him. Walter ends up meeting with Robin at the park. As they talk, he begins to succumb to his desires and invites Robin to sit on his lap. She politely refuses, but then begins to confide in him. As she begins to cry, Walter realizes that she is being abused by her father. In her anguish, and sensing a similarity between her father and Walter, she offers to sit on Walter's lap, wanting his approval. Walter undergoes an epiphany, realizing the harm child molestation causes, which he had been rationalizing as being something the victims wanted. Walter tells Robin to go home and, as she leaves, she gives him a hug. On his way home, he sees Candy dropping off a young boy near the school at night. In a fit of rage and self-hatred, Walter gives Candy a thorough beating. Afterwards, he goes to Vicki's home, and she accepts him.

Soon after, Lucas visits Walter's apartment as Walter is packing to move in with Vicki and tells him that a man was beaten across the street the night before, and asks if he knows anything about it. Walter denies any knowledge, but Lucas knows better. He reveals that the boy gave a very good description of the assailant, which fits Walter. He also reveals that "Candy" is wanted in Virginia for raping a young boy. Lucas decides not to charge Walter with the assault. With Carlos' help, Walter is reunited with his sister, whom he has not seen in years. However, she refuses to forgive him and leaves. In a voice-over discussion in which his therapist (Michael Shannon) tells him that eventual forgiveness may take several years, Walter replies that he understands and accepts her anger, and expresses optimism for his own future.



The movie was shot in Philadelphia, which is the hometown of cast members Kevin Bacon, and Eve, as well as the birthplace of director Nicole Kassell, and producer Lee Daniels. Due in whole or in part to this, Bacon chose to speak with a thicker Philadelphia accent than he actually has, because he thought it was essential to the character.[citation needed]


The film was well-received critically, with Bacon's performance in particular drawing praise. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 88% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 130 reviews with an average rating of 7.3 out of 10 with the consensus "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."[2] The film also has a score of 72 on Metacritic based on 34 reviews.[3] It was nominated for the "Grand Jury Prize" award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, won the "Jury Special Prize" at the Deauville Film Festival, and was a featured film at the 2005 Traverse City Film Festival.

The film's release in the United States was limited, reaching a peak of 84 theaters. Despite being advertised in cinemas in the UK for several months, the film had a very limited release in the UK due to its controversial subject matter. Its gross in the United States was $1,576,231, while its worldwide gross totalled $4,678,405[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Woodsman (2004)". Box Office Mojo. 2005-03-10. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  2. ^ "The Woodsman (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  3. ^ "The Woodsman Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 

External links[edit]