The Woodsman (2004 film)

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The Woodsman
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNicole Kassell
Produced byLee Daniels
Screenplay byNicole Kassell
Steven Fechter
Based onThe Woodsman
by Steven Fechter
StarringKevin Bacon
Kyra Sedgwick
Mos Def
David Alan Grier
Michael Shannon
Benjamin Bratt
Music byNathan Larson
CinematographyXavier Pérez Grobet
Edited byBrian A. Kates
Lisa Fruchtman
Dash Films
Lee Daniels Entertainment
Distributed byNewmarket Films
Release date
  • January 19, 2004 (2004-01-19) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • December 24, 2004 (2004-12-24) (United States; limited)
Running time
87 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.5 million
[citation needed]
Box office$4.7 million[1]

The Woodsman is a 2004 American drama film directed and co-written (with Steven Fechter) by Nicole Kassell, based on Fechter's play of the same name. The film stars Kevin Bacon as a convicted child molester who must adjust to life after prison. Its name refers to the woodsman from the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood who kills the wolf to save the titular child.


After serving a 12 year prison sentence for child molestation, Walter Rossworth (Kevin Bacon) returns to an unnamed town, with his brother-in-law Carlos being his only family contact; his existing family and any former friends have long abandoned him. Walter finds a small apartment, and a job at a lumber mill by circumstance of appreciation from the Mill's manager, whose Father recommended Walter to him. Walter meets Vicki, one of the few women working there as well as Mary-Kay, who becomes suspicious of Walter's private and closed off personality. After having sex with Vicki multiple times, Walter tells her what he did, but then asks her to leave before a shocked Vicki can respond.

Walter regularly meets with a therapist who advises Walter to keep and maintain a journal of his thoughts. Though initially hesitant about doing so, Walter does begin to write. Walter's journal entries begin to focus on what he observes outside his apartment, near a school playground. Walter observes a man he names "Candy" often waiting outside of the school, recognizing that he too is a pedophile but does not immediately report him to the Police. Walter is also regularly visited by Sergeant Lucas, who shows nothing but disgust at Walter's past. Lucas makes it clear that he intends and expects Walter to re-offend, at one point he refers to the story of "Little Red Riding Hood", and how he cannot understand why people like Walter are allowed to walk free.

At the Lumber Mill, Walter begins to receive ominous print outs in his locker, culminating in his arrest record having been given to all the employees. A fight nearly breaks out between one of the staff and Walter, however Vicki and his boss intervene. Defeated, Walter goes to the park where he meets Robin, a young girl who he had befriended earlier in the film. Walter begins to succumb to his desires, offering Robin to sit on his lap. Robin refuses, but also mentions that her father also offers her to sit in his lap. Walter realizes that Robin is being molested by her own father, and finally understands the pain and trauma people like him have inflicted on his victims. Robin gives Walter a hug before going home.

That same night, Walter walks home and sees Candy dropping the same boy he saw picking up earlier that day. Walter severely beats him, angered and self-aware of his own actions. The following Day Lucas comes by, and informs Walter of the incident whilst also deliberately suggesting that he knows Walter was the assailant. Lucas however doesn't press charges, revealing that Candy is a wanted man in Virginia for the rape of a young boy. Walter moves in with Vicki, and with Carlos' help a reunification is made with Walter's sister, however she refuses to forgive him. Walter understands, in speaking with his therapist that true forgiveness may take several years, but expresses optimism over his own future.


  • Kevin Bacon as Walter
  • Kyra Sedgwick as Vicki
  • Mos Def as Sgt. Lucas
  • Benjamin Bratt as Carlos
  • Eve as Mary-Kay
  • David Alan Grier as Bob
  • Hannah Pilkes as Robin
  • Kevin Rice as "Candy"
  • Michael Shannon as Rosen
  • Carlos Leon as Pedro
  • Jessica Nagle as Annette
  • Liam Daniels as boy at playground
  • Joey Hazinsky as Cherub
  • Aunt Dot as saleswoman
  • Spencer Ross as sportscaster
  • Ashley C. Coombs as girl on bus
  • Clara Infinity Daniels as little girl on bus
  • Floraine Maniscloux as girl in mall
  • Nicole Gibson as girl with red ball

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS and DVD on April 12, 2005 by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. This is the first DVD release to use the on-screen Sony Pictures Home Entertainment logo.


The Woodsman 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 133 reviews with an average rating of 7.30/10 with the consensus "Kevin Bacon's performance as a child molester 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 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] In an interview with The New York Times in 2010, actor Colin Firth named Bacon's performance the Best of the Decade.[4]

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 October 5, 2015.
  3. ^ "The Woodsman Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  4. ^ The Best Acting Performances of the Decade. The New York Times Magazine. New York City: The New York Times Company. February 17, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2017.

External links[edit]