The Woodsman, the anguished drama from the producer of Monster's Ball is just the thing for viewers who found Mystic River too happy-go-lucky. Walter (Kevin Bacon), released after 12 years in prison for molesting young girls, battles his inner demons while trying to make a new life for himself with Vicki (Bacon's wife, Kyra Sedgwick), his equally traumatized lover. First-time director Nicole Kassell bravely and patiently tackles a taboo subject, challenging the limits of an audience's empathy. Some may flinch at walking in the shoes of a pedophile, but Bacon's masterfully restrained performance the strongest of his career is worth the trek.
EXTRAS In a too-short ''Getting It Made''featurette, producer Lee Daniels admits to fearing the impact of the role on Bacon's career. Kassell points out the downside of Megan's Law in her commentary, and some of her observations, like the sweeping comment, ''Every child at some point. . . has had a moment of discomfort where you just can't tell if an adult's intentions are totally pure,''are as jarring as anything in the movie.