Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 34
  2. Negative: 1 out of 34
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    It is among the best and most delicately managed films of the year.
  2. 90
    So thoughtful and provocative that we cannot help but become engrossed.
  3. 88
    It's Bacon who overcomes all obstacles.
  4. 88
    Bacon is a strong and subtle actor, something that is often said but insufficiently appreciated. Here he employs all of his art.
  5. 88
    One of the year's best.
  6. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    A stunning, difficult film.
  7. Reviewed by: Elias Sevada
    Bacon's performance is so riveting that you no longer see the 46-year-old actor.
  8. Reviewed by: Adam Smith
    It's Bacon's astonishing performance that is a quiet, challenging and ultimately discomfortingly human voice.
  9. 80
    An engrossing study of a protagonist who variously inspires pity, clinical interest, fondness, and revulsion-sometimes all at once.
  10. The film's core, anchored by a fine ensemble cast and a controlled, focused performance by Bacon, is completely solid.
  11. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The Woodsman should be pretty intolerable, but the writing-line by line-is heartfelt and probing, the direction gives the actors room to stretch out, and the performances are miraculous.
  12. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    A stunningly crafted work from first-time feature director Nicole Kassell.
  13. Bacon's subtle, assured performance keeps us with him every step of the way.
  14. 80
    Not to be missed, if only for an unforgettable leading performance by Kevin Bacon.
  15. 75
    What makes The Woodsman meaningful is Bacon's tortured suffering.
  16. Kassell has serious talent. The movie is beautifully shot, and the performances are all spot-on. But like many young screenwriters today, she has overwritten her script to the point where everything is simply too tidy for the messy psychological material.
  17. Bacon's portrait chills to the bone.
  18. Tasteful but not compromised.
  19. 75
    It takes a confident actor to accept a role like this and to perform it to flawless perfection.
  20. The film manages the extraordinary feat of forcing us to empathize simultaneously with both the potential victim and the potential villain.
  21. It's a tough movie with a fearless performance by Bacon and brave filmgoers will be rewarded with a bracing experience.
  22. 70
    Kassell's visual influences are evident -- she's clearly a fan of the down-and-dirty films of the '70s -- but the consistently fine performances smooth over the rough patches.
  23. What is more remarkable is that he (Bacon)has found a way, without the slightest hint of vanity or ostentation, to convey the inner life of a man who is almost entirely shut down.
  24. Sympathy for a pedophile is difficult, but surely comprehension may be possible, and Bacon evokes it.
  25. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    Bacon conveys the weight of his character's anguished struggles through his economy of movement, and the powerful, spare script is refreshingly devoid of cant.
  26. You can tell that everyone's whole heart is in this project, you just wish that a little more of the heart was conveyed on the screen.
  27. Worth seeing for Bacon's lived-in minimalist purgatory, but the movie soft-pedals the nature of the desires he's at war with: the fact that they will never go away.
  28. Bacon's mature performance serves a story that's considerably less sophisticated than he is, making The Woodsman less "brave" and more a slightly better-made movie of the week.
  29. Melodrama triumphs. But here's at least some muted applause for a fine cast and filmmakers trying to confront the real world and its shadows.
  30. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    An honest, honorable indie chamber drama that, if anything, errs on the side of caution. It benefits from a scrupulously observed performance by Kevin Bacon.
  31. 63
    In real life, Bacon and Sedgwick are husband and wife. Their scenes mark one of the rare times an off-screen couple's intimacy enriches on-screen passion.
  32. 60
    While The Woodsman gets the psychological profile right, it fails to make Bacon a man.
  33. In a film that's carefully crafted but also airless and overcalculated, Mos Def walks away with every scene he's in because we're never sure what his character is up to, and we're never told.
  34. 30
    Overblown melodrama, as muddle-headed as it is palpably sincere.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 26
  2. Negative: 5 out of 26
  1. Oct 22, 2013
    The approach that is taken towards the overall revelation of 'The Woodsman' is one of subtle and delicate means, we know when the film kicksThe approach that is taken towards the overall revelation of 'The Woodsman' is one of subtle and delicate means, we know when the film kicks off that Walter is being released from prison, he settles into an apartment while also taking a job at a lumberyard, it's safe to say that much of the surprise can be taken out of the film especially when every description of the film now outlines the exact extent of Walters crimes. The film doesn't take pedophilia lightly, in fact Kevin Bacon never attempts to seek redemption for the error of his ways, the film instead shows how fitting back into society can prove difficult, especially when he is living across from a school. Bacon is not playing a character who is looking sympathy or remorse for what he is done, he is taking each day as it comes and letting certain individuals treat him like dirt, he takes it on the chin but continues to struggle, he believes there is a man bothering the children in the school, yet due to his past is unsure what to do about it. Two co-workers have two very different opinions of Walter, Mary-Kay (Eve) is immediately suspicious after Walter puts her down, but Vickie (Kyra Sedgwick) seems to admire the mysterious and quiet attitude of Walter, contrary to her outward and feisty personality, she consistently asks Walter what he did, but he often refuses to tell her his past. A past that cannot be accepted isn't necessarily the person at complete fault, but the crime itself. Walter tests his own desires time and time again, he shares a few moments with a young bird watcher in the park, this scene has so much weight and significance that it solidifies the film, this isn't a film to be enjoyed, but more to study and appreciate the adjustment and progression of characters, this scene in the park is awkward and testing, Walter doesn't know what to do and seems to think quickly as he attempts to defuse a situation, his parole officer (Mos Def) is the one who brings Walt back down to reality, he sees the man who went into prison for molesting young children and not much else, his brother-in-law (Benjamin Bratt) tries to see past the crime but always seems edgy and unsure, but willing to give Walter a chance.
    This isn't a sympathetic piece nor a cry for help, but it asks the audience to study a situation and vets only draw your own conclusion, yet it never paints its lead as a man who has found redemption, but simply someone who is trying to adjust to a life that has moved on without him.
    Full Review »
  2. Sep 6, 2012
    One of my favorite movies of all time! Don't think it did well in the theaters when it was released as it's subject matter is quite strong.One of my favorite movies of all time! Don't think it did well in the theaters when it was released as it's subject matter is quite strong. Kevin Bacon does a great job as well as his real life wife who also stars in the film. Slow, small, dark, and difficult. Just how I like my movies. Keep an eye out for 2 rappers that have cameos in this film. Highly recommended! Full Review »
  3. Apr 6, 2012
    An exceptional movie, with exceptional performances! Daring, provocative, challenging, disturbing, intense! Kevin Bacon deserved an Oscar forAn exceptional movie, with exceptional performances! Daring, provocative, challenging, disturbing, intense! Kevin Bacon deserved an Oscar for his work here! but, oh well, we know how Hollywood works! This is a film that discloses the 'dark side' of the story. It is not about exploring the victim's perspective but the perpetrator's inner and outer world. This rises the question? Are all criminals evils? What is the effect that the crime has in the one who commits it? what is guilty? How is it experienced? Is there such a thing as redemption? and if it is, how can that be achieved?. It is not a movie for people with strong, religious them I wouldn't recommend it, as they may find it offensive and unethical. To me, this is a masterpiece! One of the best movies ever! I applaud it! Full Review »