Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Woodsman

It's after midnight, but my mind is whirling and I can't sleep. I just watched what was perhaps the most disturbing and powerful film I have ever seen: "The Woodsman" with Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. "The Woodsman" is a movie about a man who molests children, serves twelve years in prison, and then reemerges and tries to resume his life. It is a film that asks us the question, "What do we see in others, how deeply are we prepared to look?" And the answer is that we can see into others only so far as we are willing to look into ourselves.

At some level, the film is about how seriously we believe in the possibility of redemption. The title of the film is taken from the story of "Little Red Riding Hood," with the woodsman being, of course, the one who cuts open the big bad wolf at the end of the story and lets Little Red Riding Hood out, alive and unharmed. What underlies this is the question of whether redemption is a possiblity only in fairy tales. As a cynical cop puts it with eloquent bluntness, "They ain't no fuckin' woodsman in this world." Ivan Karamazov couldn't have said it better.

I think this film is disturbing at much the same level of "Dead Man Walking," in that it somehow allows us to feel a human connection to a person who has committed terrible acts, without minimizing or excusing their crimes. These are films that help us to recognize, as Sister Helen Prejean once said, that "no person can be reduced to the worst act of their lives."

Maybe I'll try to write more about this later, when I can collect my thoughts. But I highly recommend this film. See it, if its still showing in your neighborhood.

No comments: