ďThe Clearing.Ē Slow on
action, big on character development with a fine cast to carry the concept.
With actors like Helen Mirren at work, itís not necessary to fill the
air with words; itís reward enough just to watch her think. With the exception of a serious surprise, this is the story
of a kidnapping that depends entirely on the acting of the principals.
Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford), an extremely successful local businessman,
is abducted at gunpoint in the mouth of his driveway by Arnold Mack, a resentful
former employee eaten by rage at the inequity of his failure vs.
The movie is rooted in a chilling civility.
A compassionate FBI agent (Matt Craven) man moves into Eileenís house
for the duration; her son and daughter return, and everyone lives together in
stoic acceptance. The agent
respects Marionís behavior under stress; her daughter supports her; her son
can bury his nerves for only so long,.
The creepy kidnapper is multifaceted, as befits any Willem DaFoe
character. Unexpectedly caring
about his captive Ė new sneakers for navigating the rocky forest, a break now
and then from the handcuffs -
watch Robert Redford turn
Helen Mirren, as she so often does, creates an entirely new character. The American accent she uses for Eileen is no less than perfect, and she conveys love for her husband with subtlety even though it is now scarred. Willem DaFoe is largely responsible for the Hitchcockian suspense of the story. This is an actor whose mind canít be read, who never telegraphs his actions, so we are caught in the uncertainty generated by an unstable human being. Slow and professional, this movie could have been made decades ago, and thatís a compliment.
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