The Woodsman

Sony Pictures Home Ent., $26.96.

In the pedophilia drama The Woodsman (released April 12), Kevin Bacon lurks around the edges of the film draped in blues and browns, wearing his limbs and baggy clothes like a soft shell. It's as if he's afraid of letting anyone near him—or of letting something out. Bacon plays Walter, a recently paroled pedophile who winds up living in an apartment overlooking a schoolyard. Hands buried in his pockets, shoulders lurched high, he's like a recovering alcoholic trying not to think about the liquor store downstairs. The performance is a wonder—all body language and pain, deeply inhabited.

The rest of the cast—including Benjamin Bratt, Kyra Sedgwick, and a terrific Mos Def—register with solid, lived-in performances. Although the film sometimes wears its allegories on its sleeve, it's damned good filmmaking—it doesn't let up. The situations and themes it broaches are brave and necessary, demonstrating the full cycle of sexual abuse. In a tone that does not judge so much as ask us to look at the roots of abuse in the urban wasteland, The Woodsman treats the issue with sensitivity but doesn't flinch, either. What is this syndrome—a disease? A primitive impulse? What is normal? Can the abusers find recovery or the abused salvation? Without easy answers, one has a conflicted sense of anger and admiration while watching the movie.

Among the extras are a sharp commentary from first-time director Nicole Kassell and a dull featurette called "Getting It Made," in which producer Lee Daniels gives a nutshell account of the preproduction process. Also included are three excellent deleted/extended scenes, all of which would have made the film richer and clearer. At a quick 86 minutes, it's puzzling why the filmmakers felt the need to prune such relevant material.

recent RELEASES include Scorsese's The Aviator, with director commentary and some extras that, yes, include Leo. Ice Cube drives his Navigator farther toward the mainstream with Are We There Yet? Robert Bresson's great 1983 L'Argent is finally on DVD. Parents may appreciate Pooh's Heffalump Movie. A so-so Sinatra collection includes the WWII escape movie Von Ryan's Express. Better are new collections featuring silent-era greats Mary Pickford and Fatty Arbuckle. Also notable from the studio vaults: Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd, Advise and Consent, Bad Day at Black Rock, Laura, the original The Razor's Edge, and The Magnificent Seven.


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