Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Try acting a little younger, Kyra."

So, I finally watched The Woodsman, inspired by my little rant about Kevin Bacon earlier this morning, but also by a stirring conversation with a fellow neighbor. It's a decent film, made better by Bacon's rather compelling performance. Though, here, the importance lies more in the age that has stained the mug we know from the sunnier glory days of movies like Footloose. Age has weathered the rambunctiousness down to a web of sadness and weariness that stretches over his countenance. Like Bill Murray in last year's Broken Flowers, age has a great deal to do with the potency of his performance (and The Woodsman is a character piece, first and foremost), but it is not everything here. At times surprising, at times cliché, the film presents a (mostly) compelling cast of recognizables in delectibly mundane roles, Benjamin Bratt (go figure) certainly being the worst of the bunch. If there is any moment out of character with the rest of the film, it is when Bratt loses his cool on Bacon's Walter, grabbing him by the collar and cursing at his "disease." The rest is a moody, rather well considered piece of cinema(yet I'll cherish the day when a film like this comes along without "gritty," being its primary descriptive term). A majority of the film rests in the most minute details - and it is these moments that are perhaps the most overlooked in the film's actor-focused praise - for instance, Kyra Sedgewick lighting a half smoked cigarette. This is a moment so undeniably true to her character, yet so easily overlooked, you realize this is a director who truly cares for her craft. That said, I probably won't remember much about The Woodsman next year(unlike the similarly themed masterpiece, Clean Shaven, a film I will never forget), but the film's subtle considerations of light and its muted undercurrent of bird imagery, though somewhat trite, allows the film a little breathing room to be about just what it should, the small quiet moments, trapped alone in the house, when our worst fears come, not like CGI Boogeymen from the closet, but in the shape of small, nagging urges. It is those desires that hold the greatest potential for self destruction. Not meteors falling from the sky, as Hollywood would have you believe.


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