It takes some real guts to make a film where the main character is both a child molester and not a monster. It takes some guts to take the part, too, and my hat is off to Kevin Bacon (who I am only 2 degrees away from).
Pedophilia is something that runs the gamut from John Wayne Gacy to guys (like me) who look at a nubile 15-year-old and feel a hot flash of guilt because she is so sexually attractive. What makes Walter different from me is that he feels that flash for 10-year-olds, and he acts on it. He has spent 12 years in prison for having sex (no real details given, but it sounds like fondling) with a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old. He knows what he does is wrong and he wants to change. But the compulsion is still there.
Most pedophiles seem to be that way because of what happened to them during their formative years. Unlike other behaviors that deviate from the “norm,” whatever that is, it is unconscionable because it involves someone too young to make decisions for him- or herself. So mostly pedophiles are victims; victims who victimize. The pedophilia is a monstrous act, but that doesn’t mean the pedophile is a monster. Roger Ebert had a good point in his review: “Most of us have sexual desires within the areas accepted by society, and so never reflect that we did not choose them, but simply grew up and found that they were there.” This applies to homosexuals and transsexuals and many others. One day you realize what you’re attracted to, and you don’t have any control over what that is. Sadly for pedophiles, they must repress their desires, all the time. Think about that, and reflect on just how badly you wanted sex when you were, say, 18 and permanently horny.