Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Woodsman

(This is one of the tough reviews I've had - the material is tough, and having seated beside a cute chick in the theatre ain't helping bucketloads)

The Woodsman gets its name from a fairy tale - Little Red Riding Hood, you know, the dude who actually cut the wolf and out came red riding hood, alive and well. The woodsman (and his axe) gave red riding hood a chance to live another day.

Does society give second chances to criminals, criminals like Walter, convicted of child molest? Released on supervised parole, Walter tries hard to reintegrate back to society. Police knocks at his door anytime, snarling. Frequent visits to his psychiatrist is a must. Getting a job is based on whatever network he has left, and willing to accept him with the condition that he doesn't screw up. Colleagues belittle him. Relatives shun him, sometimes mock him.

And yet Walter tries, hard. He knows it is an illness in the mind he has to conquer. And he sees this sickness manifest itself in a strange man whom he calls "Candy", who loiters outside the school courtyard outside his home - he understands what "Candy" is up to, setting traps for young boys, with the aim of violating them. He is disgusted, but the reason why he understands what's going on, is because he's such a person himself. "It takes a thief to catch a thief" doesn't ring any truer than this.

But not all is gloom, as he hooks up with Vickie, a colleague ast his workplace. Vickie is his pillar of strength (in a way), and yes, she too comes along with plenty of emotional baggage (seems like all the characters in this movie are really screwed one way or another)

The finale is gripping, as we see Walter being tempted by a young girl, who's undergoing some really painful relationships back home. Will Walter falter, or will he find moral courage to resist? And what will happen to Candy? And will Walter find what he's looking for with Vickie?

The highlight here is Kevin Bacon, perhaps the most underrated character actor ever in Hollywood. His measured performance made it so believable that hey, you just pity the guy Walter he's playing.

This movie is an acquired taste, though I must warn you the movie takes its time to tell its story (even though it clocks in at about 90 mins). And oh, don't get me started on the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon!

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