The Clearing Reviews

Top Critic
Anthony Lane
New Yorker
August 1, 2004
A thriller stripped of thrills -- or, even worse, a thriller that thinks of itself as somehow rising above the vulgar pleasures of excitement.
Top Critic
Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
July 9, 2004
An intriguing but dramatically stunted psychological thriller about a kidnapping.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
July 9, 2004
Everything about it is stultifying, unexceptional and dull.
Top Critic
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
July 9, 2004
It's watchable only if you don't mind that there isn't a shock, a surprise or a message in its 91 minutes.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 9, 2004
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
July 9, 2004
A kidnapping drama that may be too intentionally low-key to qualify as a thriller but that accrues weight and tension as it makes its way through a forest of repressed emotion.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
July 8, 2004
Redford and Dafoe have all the fun, but Mirren exhibits the most talent.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
July 8, 2004
The film is written, directed and enacted with palpable intelligence. But intelligence can seem dull if unleavened by wit or excitement.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
Top Critic
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
July 8, 2004
What had been an intelligent and intriguing thriller loses its bearing, its momentum and, eventually, its audience.
Top Critic
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
July 3, 2004
Some nice writing and a commitment to craftsmanship are evident, but the voltage here is simply too low to engage us.
| Original Score: C
Top Critic
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
July 3, 2004
A precise, chilly brand of filmmaking that's hard to warm up to.
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
July 2, 2004
The acting was very effective...
Top Critic
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
July 2, 2004
We are lured into the woods brimming with expectations, but ultimately, we find ourselves looking for the wrong sort of clearing: a way out.
Top Critic
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
July 2, 2004
It stays in character, small, human, bitter and sad.
Top Critic
Mike Clark
USA Today
July 2, 2004
This is one of those moderately engrossing movies that seems to collapse all at once during the wrap-up, yet it's well-acted all around, especially by its star, who once again reminds us why audiences have liked him for 40 years.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
July 2, 2004
You want to see this one for the acting.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
July 2, 2004
It's still worth a look, for the pleasures of Mirren's peerlessly dry performance.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
July 2, 2004
The brilliance of The Clearing lies in its ability to tell parallel stories and make both equally riveting.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
July 2, 2004
A movie like this doesn't need excellent taste. It needs sweaty desperation, and bitter recriminations.
Top Critic
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
July 2, 2004
It all adds up to an acute character study -- but as a thriller, it's too cerebral to quicken the pulse.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
July 2, 2004
The performances by the three principals are first-rate.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
July 2, 2004
Hollow and slow.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
July 2, 2004
When the psychology is incomprehensibly vague, and the thrills nowhere in sight, I'd say the mess is complete.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
Top Critic
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
July 2, 2004
As fine a performance as Mirren gives -- capturing Eileen's apprehension and sturdiness at once -- Redford is the chief reason to see The Clearing.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
July 2, 2004
What eventually happens will emerge from the personalities of the characters, not from the requirements of Hollywood endings. Sensing that, we grow absorbed in the story, knowing that what happens along the way will decide what happens at the end.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
July 2, 2004
Discreetly filmed, slowly paced, looking for deeper motivation in every glance and comment, The Clearing never comes up with the emotional gold to justify the dig.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Kevin Thomas
Los Angeles Times
July 1, 2004
Brugge's acutely observant direction and Justin Haythe's thoughtful script allow Robert Redford, Helen Mirren and Willem Dafoe to give performances that rank among their best.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
Dave Kehr
New York Times
July 1, 2004
Mr. Brugge has perhaps succeeded in avoiding vulgar melodrama, but he has hit on something far worse -- a bloodless melodrama, with bottled water running in its veins.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/5
Top Critic
Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
July 1, 2004
One of those films you end up admiring more than you enjoy.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
July 1, 2004
Classy but ultimately unsatisfying.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
June 30, 2004
The benefits of seeing this movie may not be worth the patience necessary to get through it.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Allison Benedikt
Chicago Tribune
June 30, 2004
The Clearing is just an OK thriller, full of standard scenarios and cookie-cutter characters.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Chuck Wilson
L.A. Weekly
June 30, 2004
Redford and Mirren, two masters of contained emotion, keep us peering intently at their faces, searching for clues -- not as to whether Wayne will survive, but whether this marriage will.
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
June 30, 2004
The story is Redford's, but with [Mirren's] trademark brisk practicality and ease in her own skin, she ransoms the actor from the constrictions of his self-definition as a romantic movie star.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
June 29, 2004
A character-driven suspenser that engages the mind more than the emotions, but neither grippingly.
Top Critic
David Ng
Village Voice
June 29, 2004
With the emotional reins of the movie firmly in her grasp, Mirren never condescends to her character, investing her with an unshakable poise that unnerves even as it reassures those around her.
Top Critic
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
June 29, 2004
Brugge and Haythe fail to satisfactorily pull off either the thriller or the marital deconstruction.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
June 17, 2004
The pleasures of this endeavor, directed with a keen eye for detail by Pieter Jan Brugge, come from what the actors bring to the material.
| Original Score: 3/4