The Clearing (2004)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.

USA/Germany2004.  Fox Searchlight Pictures, Thousand Words, Wildwood Enterprises, Blue Ridge Motion Pictures, Mediastream Dritte Film GmbH & Co. Beteiligungs KG, The Clearing.  Story by Pieter Jan Brugge, , Screenplay by Justin Haythe.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

The characters in this hideous dud are all so wooden that your lack of empathy for their suffering will eventually turn to complete delight in their misery. Self-made business tycoon  wakes up in the morning, kisses his wife () goodbye, and goes to work. On the way, he unfortunately gets kidnapped by a frustrated, unemployed man () sporting a fake moustache and carrying a pistol. Dafoe takes Redford to the middle of the woods, where the events of one day play out while the events of many days play out at home. Mirren, terrified at the prospect of losing her husband, allows the FBI into her house and follows the instructions that her husband’s kidnapper gives her, while her immensely unlikable children rally around her for support. Whenever the story switches to the two men in the forest it seems to be dropping hints towards a ending that will hopefully come out of nowhere; don’t be fooled by this hook, there’s nothing to discover. For a thriller it doesn’t even have the slightest amount of tension, and the dialogue between Redford and Dafoe is as lifeless as could possibly be written. Mirren’s is the only character with more than a thin layer of flesh to her, and she performs it admirably, but she’s given so little to do except feel her situation that her being relatable is useless. Besides, anything that could happen to Redford in the forest is a hell of a lot more healthy than he could find in the drab, cold house he seems to love living in.

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