The Clearing: Lorey Sebastian
April 21, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Clearing

Current Status
In Season
91 minutes
Limited Release Date
Willem Dafoe, Helen Mirren, Robert Redford, Matt Craven, Alessandro Nivola, Melissa Sagemiller
Pieter Jan Brugge
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Justin Haythe
Mystery and Thriller, Drama
We gave it a B-

A laid-off employee (Willem Dafoe) is so desperately embittered that he kidnaps wildly successful CEO Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford) of his old corporation as payback. The tactic is definitely not one of the seven habits of highly successful people. But Dafoe thinks the emotional thriller, by first-time director and longtime producer Peter Jan Brugge (”The Insider”), exposes the myth of the American Dream. ”We’re told if you pursue your dream with tenacity, it will happen,” says Dafoe. ”Quite frankly, that’s bulls— and it depresses a lot of people. If you don’t have what you dream about, it’s your fault. [My character] Arnold represents a whole class of disappointed people whose rage is wrapped up in their guilt of failing.”

Redford is certainly an appropriate actor to play the heralded businessman. (Helen Mirren plays his agonizing wife.) ”In some ways, [Redford] is Wayne,” says Dafoe. ”He’s a self-made man. Not only is he a movie star, but he’s built a whole way of being, with the Sundance Institute and his political activity.” Here’s hoping this movie doesn’t give anyone ideas: Just in case, perhaps Redford should watch out for shifty-eyed Sundance rejects carrying chloroform.

THE GOOD NEWS Thankfully, the movies are still employing talented veteran actors like Redford, Dafoe, and Mirren.

THE BAD NEWS It didn’t spark much talk after premiering at this year’s Sundance, where Redford’s the boss!

You May Like