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Robert Redford
as Wayne Hayes

Helen Mirren
as Eileen Hayes

Willem Dafoe
as Arnold Mack

Alessandro Nivola
as Tim Hayes

Matt Craven
as Agent Ray Fuller

Melissa Sagemiller
as Jill Hayes

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Written by Justin Haythe

Directed by Pieter Jan Brugge

Running Time: 1:31

Rated R
for brief strong language.



The Clearing was a decent thriller that was a little confusing, and very slow moving.


Wayne and Eileen are a happy couple, living together in the suburbs. He works too hard, but they're content in their lives. Then one morning, without warning, Wayne is kidnapped, and their lives are turned upside down. Why was Wayne kidnapped by Arnold? And will Eileen ever see him alive again?


So the story is fairly simple. Man gets kidnapped, F.B.I. moves in to his house to help get him back. I found the movie slightly confusing because once the kidnapping happens, it splits into two separate stories. One is the kidnapper and his captive, and the other the wife, her kids, and the F.B.I. But what was confusing is the time. Now, I don't know whether it was just me that was confused, or whether this was a plot device used by the director, but the question is, when is everything happening? The next sentence will be hidden in case no one wants to know the secret because as I said, I don't know whether it's done on purpose, or whether I was just confused. So highlight the next sentence if you want to read it. The kidnapping story line takes place over the period of a single day, while the other story line plays out over several days. Then they come together at the end..

The story was, as I said, fairly simple, so there wasn't much to go on. I found the film moved along very slowly for such a short film. This was apparently meant to be an actors film, so the audience would bask in the glow of performances by Redford, Mirren and Dafoe. That's all fine and good, but I never felt captivated by them. Mirren gave some depth to her performance, as her character never knew what was going on. Redford's character didn't really have much going for him, nothing that made me feel like I should like him, other than the fact he was Robert Redford. Willem Dafoe's kidnapper never really clicked with me either, because his reason for the kidnapping wasn't very strong. I kept thinking there would be more explained, but there never was.

While the movie was by no means bad, there just wasn't a lot of substance to it. Two guys in the woods discussing their lives could be interesting, but the conversations were all transparent and didn't reveal much. When Redford would suddenly explode with some explanation about why he though Dafoe was doing something, it felt contrived. The two kids didn't have a whole lot to do, other than look sad and wish well for their father. And lines like 'What would you say to your father if he were here right now? That I love him' are cheesy instead of moving. The two story split was interesting, but as I said, somewhat confusing and therefore didn't add anything to the movie.


So overall, The Clearing was a so-so film, probably worth a rental on a cold winter's night, but even with the impressive star power, not worth seeing on the big screen.

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