The Clearing (2004)



Critic Consensus: Though it has an excellent cast, this emotionally detached movie is the kind that one admires more than enjoys.

Movie Info

Dutch film producer Pieter Jan Brugge makes his directorial debut with the dramatic thriller The Clearing. Affluent executive Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford) and his lovely wife, Eileen (Helen Mirren), live in a beautiful home in Pittsburg. One day, Wayne is kidnapped by disgruntled employee Arnold Mack (Willem Dafoe). He is then held for ransom in a forest. Meanwhile, Eileen is forced to reckon with the FBI agents as they negotiate with the kidnapper. Alessandro Nivola and Melissa Sagemiller star … More

Rating: R (for brief strong language)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Pieter Jan Brugge, Justin Haythe
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 9, 2004
Box Office: $5.6M
Fox Searchlight Pictures - Official Site


as Wayne Hayes

as Eileen Hayes

as Arnold Mack

as Agent Ray Fuller

as Louise Miller

as Tom Finch

as Eva Finch

as Cindy Mack

as Agent Kathleen Dugga...

as Lane Hayes

as Detective Kyle Woodw...

as John Dewitt

as Mr. Schmidt

as Agent Elkins

as Agent Crew

as Another Agent

as Agent Sullivan

as Robert Gidden
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Clearing

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Critic Reviews for The Clearing

All Critics (137) | Top Critics (38)

A thriller stripped of thrills -- or, even worse, a thriller that thinks of itself as somehow rising above the vulgar pleasures of excitement.

August 1, 2004
New Yorker
Top Critic

Good performances almost make it worthwhile.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

I just expected a lot more in the end, and really just didn't get it with a routine script, bland plot, and an ending that was too sudden to be accepted.

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

It's pretty bland, even though the trailer would lead you to believe otherwise.

Full Review… | June 17, 2005

...a very good thriller that could've (and should've) been a great one...

Full Review… | January 15, 2005
Reel Film Reviews

[Mirren, Redford, and Dafoe] cannot get a fire going in this cliché-soggy kindling.

December 31, 2004
Christianity Today

Audience Reviews for The Clearing


Much better than I'd anticipated, not the biggest fan of Helen Mirran nor Robert Redford and yet both gave enjoyable performances.

Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

This little 2004 drama is a slow-burn thriller about a successful businessman (Redford) who is one day kidnapped and held for ransom by a former employee (Dafoe). Once word gets out about the abduction, it is up to the businessman's wife (Mirren) to deliver the ransom.

The ideas going on, and the way they are executed is kinda alrighr, and this had the potential to be really good. However, the film ultimately faisl to deliver a product that is as compelling as it could be. The film is edited in a way to make it seem that all the events are happening simultaneously, when in reality this isn't quite the case.

I kinda liked this idea, but with the way it plays out, I think the film would have ultimately been far better and stronger had they just told it in a more straightforward fashion, with greater emphasis on motives, characters, and that kind of thing. All of that is there, but it seems a little weak. Maybe I should just try to overlook that though since this was Pieter Jan Brugge's first film as a director.

There are things I liked about it. The casting is good, and they give pretty decent performances. The film has a good atmosphere and tone, and there are some parts that are really suspenseful and done quite well. I was never bored watching the film, yet it left me a little unfulfilled and wondering why the people behind the film made the decisions they did.

Despite it's problems and the fact that it ultimately isn't a successful movie, you can tell they tried to make it good. The psychological elements are nice, too. I don't really ultimately recommend it, yet I still kinda liked it, or at least some it, or the concepts.

I wantd this to be good, and even though it's not, it does come fairly close.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Wayne (Robert Redford) and Eileen (Helen Mirren) Hayes, together they have raised two children and really struggled to build a successful business from the ground up. But there have been sacrifices along the way. When Wayne is kidnapped, by Arnold Mack (Willem Dafoe), and held for ransom in a remote forest, the couple's world is turned inside out !!!!
i quite enjoyed this one guys...its full of suspense

♥Robyn M♥

Super Reviewer

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