The victim of mysterious forces, kidnapped corporate titan Robert Redford pins his hopes on divining the motives of his abductor (Willem Dafoe, whose stick-on 'stache makes him look like either William H. Macy or Steve Buscemi the verdict at our screening was mixed). While the bigwig's family (headed by wife Helen Mirren) negotiates for his release, we get to listen in on the conversational jousting between him and his improbably verbose captor a delicate interaction that may decide the abductee's fate. The big problem is that neither plotline amounts to much an official investigation unearths "shocking" family secrets of little ultimate importance, and the Redford/Dafoe banter is so polite that the kidnapping seems more like an Outward Bound excursion for the Fortune 500 set than a life-or-death proposition. The lack of a much-needed nail-biting climax relegates The Clearing to the status of an interestingly cast So What.
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