The Clearing (2004) Review

A former employee Arnold Mack one day in broad daylight abducts executive Wayne Hayes, holding him at gunpoint as his world unravels around him.


The Clearing has some interesting ideas, especially the way the story is told in flashbacks and even flash-foward moments and we actually don’t realise that we have seen more of the ending earlier than we first thought. But that idea just didn’t really work well in the execution.

Wayne Haynes on the outside appears to be the perfect man, a very successful business and a long marriage to Eileen with grown up kids. However the details of an affair is brought up and Arnold seems to know a hell of a lot about his former boss, claiming that he must pay for everything he has done to his family and others.

It should have a lot more tense moments than it manages to contain as Arnold doesn’t really seem sure on what exactly he is going to do to Wayne and what he will actually manage to go through, which was a shame really as it could have forced viewers to be on the edge of their seats throughout.

Willem Dafoe seemed like great casting as Arnold Mack, given that he had brief moments of flying off the handle and being a little bit psycho, I guess the issue was that he should have been let go more to go full on psycho instead. That would have made everything a lot more tense. Robert Redford is obviously believable as that family man, with the secrets and pulls off the interactions with Dafoe well enough. Helen Mirren is always a joy right? Alessandro Nivola was given a few scenes as well and was decent.

Overall though it just lacks more depth, which is a total shame given the talented cast who deserved as lot more. The script had so much potential and the execution of that and the ideas around the scenes just didn’t come off.

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