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The Clearing
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Synopsis for
The Clearing (2004) More at IMDbPro »

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Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford), and his wife Eileen (Helen Mirren) are living the American dream, having raised two children and built up a successful business from scratch. He is looking forward to a peaceful retirement with Eileen. However, everything changes when Wayne is kidnapped in broad daylight by a former employee, Arnold Mack (Willem Dafoe). While Wayne tries negotiating with the kidnapper for his life, and Eileen tries to secure her husband's release, she finds herself being investigated by the FBI.

The kidnapping causes Wayne and Eileen to reevaluate their relationship, after Eileen discovers that Wayne has continued an extramarital affair that he promised to end months previously. Eileen begins to wonder whether she should pay the ransom, as it increasingly appears unlikely that Wayne will be safely released.

However, Eileen's efforts to secure Wayne's release turn out to have been in vain, as Wayne was murdered by Arnold early in the kidnapping. Eileen's ordeal takes place over the course of a week, while Wayne is only held for a day before he is killed. The time discrepancy is only revealed towards the end of the movie, and until then it seems that Wayne and Eileen's experiences are occurring simultaneously.


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