Kevin Bacon reveals his capacity
It happened to me the other night.
Kevin Bacon used to be an actor who I tolerated but didn’t admire. He had been around forever and made dozens of average appearances in average movies. At the best I regarded him as a safe card. At the worst he was mildly annoying for vague reasons that I couldn’t put my finger on. He certainly wasn’t an actor that would make me go and watch a movie just to get the chance to see him. No Ryan Gosling.
And then I watched The Woodsman and my perception of Kevin Bacon was turned upside down from one hour to the next.
Tough sell topic
His portray of a child molester returning to his hometown after 12 years in prison, attempting to start a new life, is one of the best acting performances I’ve ever seen on a screen.
It’s not a comfortable movie to watch, to say the least. The topic is a tough sell and causes a lot of mixed emotions at least with me.
So here he is, this clearly fucked-up person, who has committed one of the worst crimes I can think of, a person I wouldn’t want anywhere near any of my daughters, a man that you’d rather keep locked up in a prison for the rest of his life. Better safe than sorry. We don’t want that kind of monsters loose in the streets. Apparently there’s a big risk for relapses, so why even give him the chance to think about it?
On the other hand, the man is obviously remorseful. He knows what he’s done, he knows what harm it did and he doesn’t want to walk that road again. Relapsing is the last thing he wants to do. There’s something very vulnerable about him, so when his sister refuses to have anything to do with him and his co-workers start bullying him, it feels unfair. After all – you pay for your crimes with your prison sentence. Shouldn’t that be enough?
I felt double about the guy, I and I think that was exactly what this movie was aiming for. Complexity. Ambiguity.
It’s hard to think of a role more difficult to play than this, composed by so many layers, ranging from something vaguely sympathetic to the straight out creepy. Who would have believed that Kevin Bacon of all people would be the man to pull it off? I certainly wouldn’t
But he did and he did it so well that I admit that I probably have underrated him most unfairly.
So what do you say, has Kevin Bacon done any role as good as this? Are there other of his movies that I need to check out again? Or was The Woodsman a onetime only, the highpoint of his acting career?
The Woodsman(Nicole Kassell, US, 2004) My rating: 4,5/5