Projections - Movie Reviews

The Clearing
The Clearing

Starring Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, Willem Dafoe,
Alessandro Nivola, Matt Craven, Melissa Sagemiller

Strong casting lifts The Clearing above most kidnaping dramas as director Pieter Jan Brugge has an acute eye for what lies beneath the surface of everyday life.

A private business has made Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford) a wealthy man, But, Wayne, married 30 years to wife Eileen (Helen Mirren-Calendar Girls), doesn’t have the same fortune in his personal life.

A big wake-up call for Wayne comes in the form of an odd, upset former employee, Arnold (Willem Dafoe) who kidnaps him from the driveway of his Pittsburgh mansion. It will unearth aspects of his life with Eileen, and his two adult children, played by Alessandro Nivola and Melissa Sagermiller in ways that let them have their moments.

Brugge compresses the time line for the Wayne and Arnold as the kidnapper takes him far into a forest while the home-front with Eileen and her kids wait over a two-week period. The anxiety builds for the Hayes clan as an FBI agent (Matt Craven) tells them what they must do in order to get their loved one back.

The early moments with Redford and Mirren are effectively done to make the emotions that result from the distress pay off. Dafoe brings more sensitivity to his nutty vengefulness in a role that lets Redford (Spy Game) give one of his strongest portrayals in years.

Maybe the directing and editing scheme, along with Justin Haythe’s scripting is too neat, it may have many questioning the outcome. But the ensuing underpinnings in The Clearing, with its straightforward subtext connects from varying perspectives and is catalyzed by its vivid characters.

The Clearing

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