movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Spiritflare who says... "This movie was very powerful, without being condescending or making us feel sorry for the principal actor. It highlights not the question of to what extent an ex-con does to rehabilitate themselves within society, but to what extent society allows a former perpetrator a second chance. Everyone is a victim here - society and the perpetrator
The movie starts out with Walter, played by Kevin Bacon, being released from jail after presumably serving a sentence. We see details of his release being entered into a computer - one item stands out - supervised parole. He is seen arriving in a small town, and being shown into an apartment by the landlord. We catch a glimpse of the apartment facing an elementary school and we see kids playing.
The next day, Walter starts a job at a lumber yard, and we see the supervisor warn him that the only reason he's been accepted here is because he did a good job for the supervisor's father, and that he doesn't want Walter to make any trouble.
Walter settles into his job and goes back to his lonely apartment. We see that he seems reclusive, and doesn't talk much, but he sticks to his work schedule and seems to be doing a good job. One day at work, over lunch, a woman Mary-Kay (played by Eve) sits down at the table with him, and tries to engage him in conversation. Walter doesn't say much, and when Mary-Kay offers him a sandwich, he gets upset and walks away, telling her he has to return to work. This seems to arouse the suspicion of Mary-Kay, who is later seen asking the supervisor what exactly Walter did to go to jail - it seems that people know he was an ex-con, but are unsure what the crime was. The supervisor tells Mary-Kay to mind her own business, but you can tell she wants to do some more "investigating".
The next morning Walter comes to work, and sees another female worker, Vickie, (played by Kyra Sedgwick) being harassed by some of the male workers. Vickie isn't no ordinary woman, and she generally fights back, much to the amusement of the men.
Walter notices this, and doesn't join in the teasing. Later over lunch, he stops by Vickie's table where she is sitting alone, and asks her if she's okay. She responds rudely, and Walter goes to another table to sit alone and eat his lunch.
That evening, we see Carlos, (Benjamin Bratt) Walter's brother in-law, visit him at the apartment, and they start discussing about Walter's wish to see his sister and his niece Carla. Apparently, whatever crime Walter committed, his sister has cut off communications with him, and Carlos is the only member of the family still talking to him. Carlos mentions next week will be Carla's 12th birthday party, and that he "wishes" that he could invite Walter. We also hear that Walter's landlord is the only one in town that will rent him an apartment.
In between all this, Walter goes for weekly scheduled visits to his psychiatrist.
We find out that Walter is a former pedophile, and that he was jailed for 12 yrs for molesting young girls. The psychiatrist encourages Walter to keep a journal so that he can relate his experiences of reintegrating into society, and we can see that Walter is frustrated because he believes that he is cured and all he wants to do is continue with his life. Apparently prison has taken its toll.
The next day, after work, Walter is walking to catch to the bus, (he doesn't own a car) and Vickie, his co-worker, stops by in her pickup and offers him a ride home.
At first Walter refuses, and says that he can manage himself, but she eventually persuades him. When they get to Walter's apartment, we find them both sitting on his couch, so presumably he has invited her up. She tries to get him to tell her what exactly his "dark secret" is. She tells him that she can tell that he's hiding something - at first she thought he was just shy, but now she thinks something happened to him. When Walter asks why she wants to know, she says she would like to know before they have sex. Talk about being up front and on the first "date". Walter refuses, but regardless Vickie leans over to give him a kiss, and soon we see a lovemaking scene in Walter's bedroom. After this session, after some more persuasion from Vickie, Walter finally admits that he had molested young girls and that he had served a "hard" prison sentence of 12 yrs. It has changed him. At first Vickie reacts with silence, and asks him what exactly he did to those girls. Walter responds "It's not what you think..I never hurt them". Then he asks Vickie to get out of his bed and leave. When she asks him why, he bottles up and tells her that she should be shocked about what he just admitted. Vickie tells him she's not easily shocked, but Walter insists she should be,and kicks her out of the house.
The next evening, Carlos visits again and brings a table to Walter's apartment. This is the wedding gift that Walter gave to Carlos and his sister, and he demands to know why Carlos is returning it. At first, Carlos says that it's because Walter needs a table for his new apartment, but later admits that "he still loves his wife". It seems she ordered him to take the table out of the house and return it to Walter.
For a couple of days, we see both Vickie and Walter pass each other by at work, and neither acknowledges each other. One evening Walter and Carlos go out for a beer, a boys night out, and Walter asks Carlos once more to visit with his sister and niece..Carlos tells him he has good news - his sister will see him in July, when Carla is at summer camp. This frustrates Walter, and he gets angry, telling George that he's not a monster. He can't seem to escape his past.
Carlos tells Walter he's looking forward to his wife leaving in a couple of weeks so he can get some time to look at other women. It seems Walter is not the only one with "issues" here. Suddenly, Walter leans over and asks Carlos if he ever has "feelings" for Carla, his 12yr old daughter. This infuriates Carlos, and Walter nearly gets beaten up. It seems the 12 yrs in prison might not have cured Walter of his urges.
When Walter goes home, we see him noticing a man (played by Kevin Rice) in the parking lot across the street at the elementary school trying to chat to the kids leaving. Walter calls this man "Candy" and writes in his journal about how Candy is trying to entice the little boys he calls "Cherubs" into getting into his BMW. The next day, as Walter leaves work on the bus, he notices a bunch of school kids get on. One of them is young pre-teen girl (Hannah Pilkes). This time Walter doesn't get off the bus, and he stays on to see where the girl gets off. When the girl gets off the bus and walks into a park, Walter follows her. When he finally catches up with her, he notices her watching birds in the trees with a pair of binoculars. He tries to engage in small talk with her, asking her about what she's doing, and she tells him she comes to the park to watch birds, and then she asks Walter what he does, and he replies "I watch people". At that, the girl tells him she has to be home before dark or her father will get upset, and she leaves.
Cut scene to Walter's weekly with his psychotherapist. In this session, Walter relates that he followed a young girl to the park, and he keeps asking the doctor when he'll be "normal". When the doctor asks him what "normal" means to Walter, he replies that it's when he'll be able to sit down and have a conversation with a young girl and not feel any urges or any other abnormal thoughts. The psychiatrist assures him that he has done the right thing by discussing this, and suggests that he may have followed the girl for innocent reasons unrelated to pedophilia, such as to see if he was cured, or to protect her, etc.
That afternoon, Sgt. Lucas, a police officer, (played by Mos Def), visits Walter at his apartment and tells him that a young girl was assaulted close to his neighborhood The detective tells Walter that it seems like a coincidence. He asks Walter why he didn't get off the bus at his house stop yesterday, (when he went to the park) and Walter tells him that he fell asleep on the bus and then walked home. It seems the police are watching his every move. when Walter offers to help catch the perpetrator, the detective gets angry and starts to insult Walter, telling him that sick people like him shouldn't be released, and that all it causes is unnecessary work for the police to go out and catch them again. He even threatens to throw Walter out his window, and suggests that nobody would believe a police officer killed him - who would take a pedophiles word over the police? As far as the detective is concerned, Walter is still a slime-bag and the worst offender out there - the fact that he has paid his debt to society means nothing. The detective warns Walter that he'll be watching him, and leaves.
The next day, at work, we see Vickie enter the girls bathroom, where is she confronted by Mary-Kay (Eve), the woman who offered Walter her sandwich at the start of the movie, and Mary-Kay warns Vickie to stay away from Walter because he's "damaged goods". Vickie asks Mary-Kay why she is saying that, and tells her to mind her own business.
Later that evening, Vickie shows up at Walter's apartment with an Ivy plant as a makeup gift. She tells Walter how to look after the plant, and offers to take him for a drive. Walter accepts. They go alongside the river and sit and chat. That night, as they return for another lovemaking session,
Vickie admits to Walter that she was molested by each of her 3 brothers as a child, but that she still loves them. She's just as messed up at he is..hence the mutual attraction?
That day, we see Walter again back at his apartment observing the "Candy" man trying to talk to children, and he scribbles some more in his journal about this man's suspicious behavior. He mulls going to the cops about this, but he realizes that nobody would believe a convicted pedophile.
After work that day, as Walter is on the bus, he again doesn't get off and goes to the park. This time he sees the young girl sitting on a bench, and he sits down and talks to her some more. When he asks her her name, she refuses to tell, but eventually he coaxes it out of her.
Her name is Robin. She tells him she has friends, but you can see she's not telling the truth. Her escape is coming to the park and watching birds. Escape from what though? She asks him what he does, and he tells her that he did something bad in the past, and that he doesn't have any friends either. Suddenly Walter asks her if she wants to "sit on his lap". The girls at first says no, but then she says she will if Walter wants her to. The girl's eyes well up with tears, and when Walter does some more probing, she tells him her dad makes her "sit on his lap". Walter asks her some more questions about what her father does while she is seated on his lap, and you can see the pain in her eyes - the young girl is being sexually assaulted by her father. She asks Walter again if he wants her to sit on his lap, and Walter says "No", and asks her go home.
At work the next day, we see Mark-Kay (Eve) doing some searching online the Internet. She accesses the state sex-offender database, and discovers that Walter was incarcerated for molesting young girls. When Walter opens his locker at work, he sees the sex-offender printout poster taped to his locker, with some abusive graffiti. One of the guys tries to pick a fight and punches Walter, and Vickie tries to defend him. The supervisor shows up and demands to know who put the poster up in Walter's locker. He also warns that if anyone can't deal with working alongside Walter, then they should come by his office, collect their paycheck, and resign. Vickie walks over to Mary-Kay's desk and finds a file on it with the printout of the sex offender profile for Walter - and gets into a yelling match with her. Mary-Kay was the one who posted the printout and spread word about Walter's history at work. She only replies "people should know about these things".
The next day, Walter is getting off the bus after work, and notices the "Candy" man has just released a young boy out of his car, and the boy runs away. His experience with Robin combined with his own personal demons make him run towards the Candy man and he beats him up very badly, punching him repeatedly until he is unconscious. Finally, crying, Walter gets up and starts walking the streets alone, trying to wrestle with all the pain he is feeling. He finally shows up at Vickie's apartment, and she takes him in.
The next day, Sgt.Lucas, the detective, shows up at Walter's apartment. He tells him that a man was assaulted across the street yesterday, and asks Walter if he knows anything about this. Walter denies everything - the detective notices a scratch on Walter's neck and asks him how he got it. Walter replies he has a passionate girlfriend. It seems the detective doesn't believe him. He mentions that the man assaulted was a known sex-offender who was wanted back in his home state.
Finally we see Walter with Vickie at the river. She lets him out of the car and we see Walter talking with a woman in the distance..it's his sister. Although we can't hear the details of the conversation, by their body movements, we can see the sister is still in shock and Walter has no chance of gaining her trust for the time being. As he looks over to Vickie, the pain fills his eyes, but Vickie looks back with understanding. Nothing comes easily and it's going to be a long road to recovery for everyone.
Fade to Black.