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The Woodsman (2004)The Woodsman (2004)

Not until the final sentence or two of this film does The Woodsman reach anything like dramatic resolution, and even then it is a resolution of the sort befitting the deep complexity and ambiguity of its subject matter. The film begins when Walter is released from serving 12 years in prison for his conviction as a sex offender, and he tries to make a new life for himself. He takes an apartment across the street from an elementary school (yes, a bad choice), and rides the bus to his job at a lumber yard. Except for his therapist, all those outside of and around Walter ostracize him as a monster and a freak. His sister refuses to talk to him or allow him to see his niece, a detective monitors his every move, and when his work colleagues discover his past they "out" him in a most bizarre way. Within himself another war rages. Neither Walter nor the viewer really knows to what extent he has moved beyond his past and is, therefore, safe. Involuntary hallucinations plague him, and poor choices born of habit implicate him. Three important sub-plots, all revolving around child molestation, contribute to Walter's unfolding narrative. Watching this film I was reminded of Faulkner's unnerving observation that "the past isn't gone; it isn't even past." Still, and not to reveal too much, this incredibly tense and powerful film ends on a hopeful note that is nevertheless sobering for all of us who seek redemption this side of eternity.

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