The Clearing

Watch The Clearing

  • R
  • 2004
  • 1 hr 35 min
  • 5.8  (14,350)
  • 60

The Clearing is a tense and gripping thriller that explores the dynamics of a kidnapping and its aftermath. The film was directed by Pieter Jan Brugge and stars Robert Redford, Willem Dafoe, and Helen Mirren in leading roles. It was released in 2004 to mixed reviews but has since gained a cult following for its nuanced performances and well-crafted plot.

The film tells the story of Wayne Hayes (Redford), a successful businessman who is kidnapped by Arnold Mack (Dafoe), a former employee who has fallen on hard times. Mack demands a large ransom from Wayne's wife, Eileen (Mirren), and threatens to kill Wayne if she doesn't comply. Eileen has to decide whether to pay the ransom and risk her husband's life or to take a stand against her kidnapper and the legal system that seems to be working against her.

The Clearing succeeds in creating a palpable sense of tension from the outset, with the opening scene showing Wayne being abducted from his car in broad daylight. The film then jumps back in time to show the events leading up to the kidnapping and the various characters involved. Redford is excellent as the stoic and unflappable Wayne, whose sense of calm under pressure is both reassuring and unsettling. Dafoe, meanwhile, is mesmerizing as the desperate and unpredictable Mack, whose motivations and backstory are slowly revealed throughout the film.

The heart of the film, however, is Mirren's performance as Eileen. As she struggles to navigate the complex emotions of fear, love, and betrayal, Mirren delivers a nuanced and powerful performance that anchors the film. She brings a depth and complexity to the character that goes beyond the typical damsel-in-distress trope, and her scenes with Redford and Dafoe are all the more powerful because of it.

One of the strengths of The Clearing is its refusal to follow the predictable beats of the kidnapping genre. Instead of focusing solely on the suspense of whether or not Wayne will be rescued, the film delves into the psychology and motivations of the characters involved. It also doesn't rely on flashy action sequences or cheap thrills, instead focusing on the slow burn of tension that builds as the film progresses.

The film's themes of power, control, and manipulation are also handled deftly, with Mack's abduction of Wayne serving as a microcosm for the power dynamics at play in society at large. The film explores how different people wield power in different ways, and how those power dynamics affect the relationships between individuals. It also raises questions about the nature of justice and the role that the legal system plays in determining right and wrong.

In terms of technical aspects, The Clearing is a well-made film that is beautifully shot and edited. The score by Craig Armstrong is also noteworthy, adding to the tension and emotion of the film without feeling overbearing. The pacing of the film is deliberate but never slow, keeping the audience engaged throughout.

Overall, The Clearing is a compelling and thought-provoking thriller that is worth watching for the performances alone. It may not be the most action-packed or flashy film in the genre, but it more than makes up for it with its nuanced characterizations and exploration of complex themes. Brugge's direction and the tight script keep the tension high without relying on cheap thrills or twists, making it a memorable and satisfying film that holds up well almost two decades later.

The Clearing is a 2004 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 35 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.8 and a MetaScore of 60.

The Clearing
Where to Watch The Clearing
The Clearing is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Clearing for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 35 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.8  (14,350)
  • Metascore