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The Clearing (2004)

  Directed by: Pieter Jan Brugge
Written by: Pieter Jan Brugge, Justin Haythe
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Helen Mirren, Robert Redford
Links: The Clearing on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 5.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Unsatisfying" - a review by pearly

I love overhearing a good whinge, and The Clearing was a film which generated more than one. As the credits rolled at its end, I heard someone saying to her friend "that was sooo boring - it didn't go anywhere!", and from the other side "who would have thought a film about a kidnapping could be so dull!". Such is the risk you take when you make a film as laid back about everything as The Clearing, in which a hostage hardly even breaks a sweat (and if he does, it's from exercise rather than nervousness), and his loved ones remain for the main part composed.

In a way, this film is almost like The Boys (1997), where key elements of the plot are hidden from view, and merely suggested, although The Boys did it a lot better.

Wayne (Robert Redford) begins his day in the regular way. He hauls himself out of bed, and chats to his wife Eileen (Helen Mirren) as he's getting ready for work. They have people coming around for dinner, and Eileen tells him not to be late home. When he doesn't turn up, she apologises to their friends for his absence, but as the night draws on, she starts to get worried. And rightly so, for it soon becomes apparent that Wayne has been taken hostage by a man named Arnold (Willem Dafoe).

One of the most interesting things about this film was a plot device that was used in which the two separate strands of the story (one being Wayne's movements since his capture, the other being the waiting and negotiating by his family at home) were told chronologically, however, they became out of sync with one another, so that one story became quite a bit ahead of the other. As opposed to the fairly standard way of doing things nowadays, which consists of chopping up the story and switching bits around, this was a refreshing way of keeping up interest in what was happening.

It wasn't, however, successful enough to make this a wonderful film. Overall, it felt like the film was lacking something, I can't exactly put my finger on what, but it didn't end up being very satisfying. I also found the ending to be pretty silly and not in keeping with the atmosphere in the rest of the film. Some solid performances from the three leads, but not much more than that.

pearly gives this movie 5 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 2 Dec 2004

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