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The Clearing  

Review: written 2005

Underwhelming and pointless

I assumed this was one of those mistakes, and I was going to rediscover some sort of gem, when I heard that this Robert redford film had gone straight to DVD. Alas, how wrong I was.

It's true, the performances are terrific, from Redford, from Willem Dafoe and especially from Helen Mirren - however, they are let down by a story that goes nowhere, and goes nowhere with no sense of style.

The plot has two strands - on one hand, we follow Robert Redford the rich businessman who is married and only now finally finding time for his kids, as he is kidnapped by Dafoe, with no apparent motive. As Dafoe marches his captive to the eponymous clearing, they talk, and we learn more about both their lives as a result.

Meanwhile, the FBI have moved in with his wife and kids, and as they investigate, we see the same family skeletons revealed from this other perspective. Displaying this flawed marriage of modern America seems to be the whole point of the movie, as the kidnapping is never truly explained, and the resolution is an empty one.

To make matters worse, the director intercuts the two stories, even though they happen in completely different timeframes. This does not help the story at all, other than to give a clue how it is all going to end.

What a shame to see such terrific performers in such an underwhelming and seemingly pointless movie. If you want to see Redford and Mirren then by all means get the movie, but dont expect any kind of hidden classic.

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