Christmas. If it’s destined to continue its countdown, so are we destined to continue ours. Here’s day twelve of our Anti-Advent Calendar…
The Woodsman, directed by Nicole Kassell, tells the story of a convicted paedophile being released from prison after serving his sentence and trying to find his place back in society. It remains one of the most underrated films of the 2000’s, with enormously brave efforts made by both Kevin Bacon (playing the lead, Walter) and Kassell to demonstrate the other side of a horrible proverbial coin.
It’s a fragile balancing act that’s carried off perfectly; we’re shown Walter fighting the urges that originally landed him in prison, but also the isolation, shame and humiliation experienced even after leaving his cell forever. To what extent should one’s punishment extend after the sentence, if at all, is a question the film successfully provokes.
Walter has committed atrocious acts in his life but, to quote The Green Mile, “he’s square with the house”. He isn’t a monster, and as the film goes on, it becomes clear that whilst his rehabilitation may become a lifelong endeavour, it’s thrown back over to us as to how we choose to treat people in a similar position.