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The Clearing

2004

R CC
3.2 out of 5 stars (98) IMDb 5.9/10

When a wealthy executive is kidnapped by a disgruntled employee and held captive in a forest, it is up to his wife to deliver the ransom and free her husband.

Starring:
Robert Redford, Helen Mirren
Runtime:
1 hour, 34 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Director Pieter Jan Brugge
Starring Robert Redford, Helen Mirren
Supporting actors Willem Dafoe, Alessandro Nivola, Matt Craven, Melissa Sagemiller, Wendy Crewson, Larry Pine, Diana Scarwid, Elizabeth Ruscio, Gwen McGee, Sarah Koskoff, Graciela Marin, Mike Pniewski, Geoff McKnight, Tom Arcuragi, Audrey Wasilewski, Peter Gannon, Jacqi Loewy, Matt Miller
Studio Fox Searchlight
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. Joe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 31, 2004
THE CLEARING will resonate most, I think, with long-married couples. Newlyweds and those married for less than, say, ten years - perhaps longer - may leave the theater thinking, "What was that all about?" Gum-chewing, adolescent singles needn't bother even buying a ticket.

Successful executive Wayne Haynes (Robert Redford) lives the good life in an elegant mansion in a leafy suburb with his wife of decades, Eileen (Helen Mirren). One morning on the way to work, Wayne is kidnapped by Arnold Mack (Willem Dafoe), a former employee, and made to march at gunpoint deep into the woods, ostensibly to be handed over to accomplices waiting in a cabin who've planned the escapade for reasons to be revealed. Eileen is left to expect developments and a ransom note with FBI agent Fuller (Matt Craven).

To be honest, I kept expecting a plot twist that would reach out, knock the popcorn from my hands, and scream "Gotcha!" And, admittedly, I was a little disappointed when that didn't happen, even though there's a mildly clever manipulation of the timelines of the two subplots, i.e. Wayne's forced march and Eileen's worried vigil. However, upon reflection, I realize that THE CLEARING isn't about a kidnapping, but rather the evolution of a marriage and the emotional ties that bind even in one that's gone stale, where the only things left are emotional dissatisfaction, dutiful commitment, and resigned toleration. Indeed, Mack's motive for the crime is left unexplored, but it doesn't have to be; it's simply a means to an end.

This film is overpopulated. Eileen is joined by her adult children, daughter Jill (Melissa Sagemiller) and son Tim (Alessandro Nivola), the latter with his own wife and infant son.
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Format: DVD
The Clearing is a story of a couple, Wayne (played by Robert Redford) and Eileen (Helen Mirrem), who are in the golden stages of there marriage when Wayne is kidnapped.

Wayne is a successful business man who has nice adult children, a gorgeous home, a nice car and a mistress. Wayne exits his home one day, only to be kidnapped by Arnold Mack (played by Willem Dafoe). It is here that the story begins.

The Clearing really isn't a kidnapping movie so much as it is a story about Wayne and Eileen. It moves along at a comfortable pace, but is by no means an intense thriller or action motion. This is not a bad thing.

The story is fresh, the acting well above average, and the interaction between the characters is pleasant to watch. Overall, the only flaw in the movie is that we really don't get a taste for Wayne and Eileen's relationship to the depth that is needed. They are rarely on screen together. Thus, there is a tension that is missing, because our hearts aren't sold on their love for one another. This leaves the movie a little flat, but still good.

This is an enjoyable movie, but not one most people will rush out to buy.

I want to address comments made by critics of the film; something I don't normally do but feel the need to here.

Some have criticized the movie for having 2 separate time lines. One reviewer called it artsy-fartsy. The Clearing plays no artsy tricks, nor tries to confuse you in the name of making "cool art." There are two separate time lines. We see Eileen as she finds out about Wayne's kidnapping, and the subsequent interactions she has with her family. Then, whenever we see Wayne and Arnold Mack, we move slightly back in time. The movie gently reveals what happened to Wayne. No tricks. No confusion at all.
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This is an intense drama which examines the impact of a kidnapping on the three main participants in the drama; Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford), a driven executive who has become a multimillionaire by selling the business which he founded; his wife Eileen (Helen Mirren), who shares their luxurious estate but who was deeply wounded years ago by an affair which she now learns has not ended, and Arnold Mack (William DaFoe), a menacing yet vulnerable kidnapper who hopes to begin a new chapter in his disappointing life. It is directed with great attention to detail; while there are occasionally scenes of intense action, most are very brief except for the one involving the payment of the eventual ransom demand. The performances of the three co-stars in this film allow them to exhibit their talent for dramatic expression which has made them recognizable to all fans of serious drama; if strong performances and a well crafted film by themselves are sufficient criteria for you to attend a movie, then you will undoubtedly enjoy this film a great deal more than I did. The most interesting technique involved the juxtaposition of the two elements of the storyline. After the opening scene we were alternately shown the interaction between DaFoe and Redford during Redford's forced march to the cabin in THE CLEARING in the woods and his wife and family's reactions as events unfolded. Their helplessness intensified as the kidnapper seemed able to continually avoid all attempts by the FBI to entrap him; meanwhile the conversations between the victim and his abductor were riveting at times. (My rating for these aspects of this movie would be well over four stars.)

However, the story seemed interminable to me.
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