The Woodsman

A convicted child molester returns home after a dozen years in prison and tries to go straight. If this has a familiar ring, that may be because the British drama The Mark (1961) explored the same subject (its lead actor, Stuart Whitman, received an Oscar nomination). The differences between the two movies are telling: the earlier one concentrated on the man’s therapy and encouraged compassionate understanding, while this one seems less interested in psychology than in challenging the audience’s sense of its own tolerance. (First-time director Nicole Kassell, who collaborated with Steven Fechter on this adaptation of his play, also seems intermittently influenced by Mystic River, which proves distracting.) Kevin Bacon is good as the pedophile, but as written his character is mainly a cipher; edgier performances come from Kyra Sedgwick (Bacon’s real-life spouse) as the man’s girlfriend and Mos Def as a cop keeping an eye on him. R, 87 min. (JR)

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