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The Clearing (2004)

R  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  16 July 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 11,277 users   Metascore: 60/100
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As an executive is held captive by an employee, it's up to his wife to deliver the ransom.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jill Hayes
Louise Miller
Tom Finch
Eva Finch
Elizabeth Ruscio ...
Cindy Mack
Agent Kathleen Duggan
Sarah Koskoff ...
Lane Hayes
Detective Kyle Woodward
John Dewitt


Wayne and Eileen Hayes live the American Dream. Together they've raised two children and struggled to build a successful business from the ground up. But there have been sacrifices along the way. When Wayne is kidnapped by an ordinary man, Arnold Mack, and held for ransom in a remote forest, the couple's world is turned inside out. Eileen finds her home full of FBI agents, their life under scrutiny. While Wayne is engaged in the negotiation of his lifetime, Eileen works frantically with the FBI to secure his release. The terrifying ordeal causes Wayne and Eileen to reassess their marriage and come to a deeper sense of their commitment to each other. With each passing hour, the need and desire for Wayne to return home safely becomes ever more urgent. Written by

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


You only really know what you have when you're about to lose it.


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

16 July 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Secretos de un secuestro  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$618,674 (USA) (2 July 2004)


$5,763,875 (USA) (8 October 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Went straight-to-video in the UK. See more »


When Wayne is leaving the table by the pool, he picks up his jacket. In the next scene just a second later, he picks up the ball to the throw to the dog and his jacket is on. There is no way he would have had time to put on his jacket. See more »


[last lines]
Wayne Hayes: Do you love me?
Eileen Hayes: Yes.
Wayne Hayes: Then I have everything I need.
See more »

Crazy Credits

For ALAN J. PAKULA See more »


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User Reviews

An incoherent mess
25 March 2005 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

After reading many good things about it ,i finally watched "the clearing".With a cast of great actors like Redford and Dafoe ,one would,at least, expect a decent film.After the closing credits had rolled i was still shocked by how bad and incoherent this movie actually was.

Is it supposed to be an "art" film??I don't think so cause it is too melodramatic for that.The bad thing is that the drama seems way too forced and unrealistic.

The truth is that the script makes absolutely no sense.First of all it never really explains the motive behind the actions of any of the characters,it just overblows their so called "personal issues".What's so bad about Redford's character's life that he has to "clear it"??The fact that he cheats,occasionally,his wife??The guy is a millionaire who has had a good life,has a great son and a great daughter,a wife that loves him(and a girlfriend that also seems to be way above the generic mistress type of woman)o and a new-born grandson.The only problem seems to be that he...has been working hard for all his life to be a successful person.So what??It seems that his hard work has really paid off and there's actually no real problems with his life.

Then we come to Dafoe's character:here's someone who was a manager for one of Redford's companies and was fired.Why is this guy unemployed for ...eight years???It seems that he must have some kind of good education to have a job like the one he had in the first place and seems to have been a man with solid ideas about his work(as evident by his flashback of a conversation that he had with Redford when he was working for him).Why couldn't a man like that get a decent job and have a decent life??Cause he was ,once,fired??Totally unrealistic.

The film really tries to portray these men as "tortured souls" or something and that comes off as really cheesy.In fact i would say that if the creators of this film were trying to say something about the American dream then they failed miserably.

As for the actual events that take place during the movie ,they also make no sense at all.In fact the last 20 minutes of the film come off as an insult to the viewer's intelligence,because there's not one thing that takes place that actually makes any sense.Redford seems to have about a 1000 chances to escape ,yet he doesn't.At one moment he is ready to escape and yet he misses his chance cause he feels sorry for his kidnapper and doesn't want to hurt him!!!Then Dafoe picks up his gun from the water and the mud,which should be useless(if you fire a shot with a gun after the gun has been in the water and mud it will possibly blow up in your face)and the gun is in perfect condition!!! The way an unemployed ,useless(as portrayed in this film) and mentally unstable character,manages to outsmart the entire FBI with such ease brings the narrative of this film to "twilight zone" levels.The cheesy ending(with Redford's wife illusion) comes to finish the viewer off.

This film pretends to be something,it's not(i.e a quality,sophisticated psychological thriller).Unfortunately it fails so hard,that it becomes a disaster and that's the word that describes this film best:A DISASTER.

37 of 65 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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