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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
The Woodsman (2004)

"I hate being 11, it has to be the stupidest age in the world."
- Robin (Hannah Pilkes)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: April 11, 2005

Stars: Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick
Other Stars: Eve, Mos Def, David Alan Grier, Michael Shannon, Benjamin Bratt
Director: Nicole Kassell

MPAA Rating: R for (sexuality, disturbing behavior, language)
Run Time: 01h:27m:14s
Release Date: April 12, 2005
UPC: 043396110014
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ AC+B+ B

DVD Review

Kevin Bacon is so popular, he has a game named after him. Still, many people don't consider Bacon as a movie star, mainly because he tends to appear in supporting roles instead of headlining by himself. In fact, in his last starring role (Hollow Man) he played an invisible man for over half of the movie. Fortunately, this seems to be Bacon's choice, and he continues to put his all into each and every role.

In the last five years or so, we've seen very little of Kevin Bacon, but when we have, he's been at the top of his game. His work in Mystic River garnered much acclaim, where he gave one of the best performances of his career. The ability to pick and choose each and every role successfully is every actor's dream. SinceBacon is living that dream, it was very easy for him to dive into the career-defining role that is the one he portrays in The Woodsman.

The Woodsman is a labor of love for both Bacon and his real-life wife, Kyra Sedgwick (Singles). Bacon stars as Walter, a man who is on parole after a 12-year prison stint. Walter is a convicted pedophile and, right out of prison, he moves into an apartment building that overlooks a school playground. Bacon does an incredible job of becoming Walter, making us believe that he wants to change for the good, while at the same time making the viewer realize that pedophilia is a sickness that is not easily overcome. Sedgwick's character works with Walter at a lumber yard, and she soon falls for him, becoming possibly the first girlfriend he's ever had. It's obvious that Bacon and Sedgwick are intimately comfortable, given the natural heat that is generated during their love scenes, and all of their scenes together seem equally as natural. This is a rare case where casting real-life spouses as a couple in a film actually works.

First-time director Nicole Kassell looks like a seasoned pro with the way she manipulates the camera to take us into Walter's world. This is a very subdued project, with a muted, washed-out look that could easily have been prettied up regardless of the dreary subject matter. Fortunately, that hasn't happened, and Kassell has done wonders capturing the perfect tone and getting the very best out of her actors, including some nice supporting work from Eve and Benjamin Bratt.

Mos Def is a revelation here. His cop is at times tough (which he should be), but he has a scene where he is talking to Walter about a crime that recently occurred right outside of his apartment building that is both interrogative and completely heart-wrenching at the same time. The rest of his interaction with Walter is equally compelling, struggling with each visit to not explode at this ex-con and just take him in to the station for hard-core questioning.

The key sequence in the film involves Walter sitting on a park bench with an 11-year-old girl named Robin. Viewers are sure to be uncomfortable during this entire scene, as Walter struggles with this living, breathing temptation that is sitting mere inches from him. Still, what begins as a "will he or won't he" segment turns into a shocking revelation from one of these two characters that sets the pace for the last act.

The Woodsman isn't perfect. Clocking in at a mere hour and a half, it's far too short, leaving many loose ends. I'm all for some ambiguity as far as the future of characters go in a film, but in a project like this, so much emotion is invested in a character like Walter, that I couldn't help but feel just a little slighted as to what his future would hold. Not that I want to see "The Woodsman 2", as that would only cheapen the impact of this film, but a bit more finality would have resulted in a more fulfilling viewing experience.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer is very good, yet has far too many problems to rank it among other recent films on DVD. Most of these flaws stem from the way that the film was shot, but there is still far too much grain for such a recent film. Image detail really is never a problem and there is a great deal of sharpness to the overall look of the film, but the grain and dirt becomes a huge distraction at different points. The intentionally drab color scheme is nicely rendered, and shadow and black levels are good as well.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: There are two audio options: Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS. All of these are very good, but the DTS gets the slight edge, due to a warmer treatment of the various ambient sounds heard in the film. Otherwise, there isn't much surround activity since this is a mostly dialogue-driven film. When the surrounds do come to life, the multi-channel tracks exhibit nice dynamic range and enough bass to make them worthwhile. The dialogue is crisp and clear in all of the tracks, which is a plus.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Boogeyman, D.E.B.S., A Love Song for Bobby Long, Imaginary Heroes, P.S., Silver City, William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Nicole Kassell
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The best extra is the audio commentary by director Nicole Kassell, during which she discusses how she got involved with the project and the trials and tribulations of making her first big feature film.

Other extras include the original theatrical trailer for The Woodsman, as well as some previews for other Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD releases. Getting It Made is a short interview with producer Lee Daniels, who talks about how the idea for the project came about, and what went into getting it made.

There is one deleted scene, which shows Walter and Vicki on the verge of breaking up, and two extended scenes, where Walter and Vicki are at the river and Walter is meeting Robin in the park. There's nothing revelatory in these sequences, but they are still nice to see.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Despite a somewhat average video transfer, The Woodsman makes a solid DVD debut from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. A grea, yet subdued DTS track is a nice bonus to an already impressive set of audio tracks, and the few extras that are on board are quite good.


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