Saturday, November 26, 2005

Clearing the Air

A Movie Review

The best thing I can say about Pieter Jan Brugge's 2004 film The Clearing, is that it is diffrent. Now I don't mean this in a condescending way, as if to say that the only thing to recommend the film is the fact that it does not fall within any clear tread-worn Hollywood category. In fact The Clearing boasts an excellent cast featuring Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, and Willem Dafoe, all giving moving performances. The cinematography is crisp, the pace refreshingly slow, and what little score there is is memorable. No, The Clearing is great because its not the type of film they make much in Hollywood, and I mean this in a number of ways.

First, it's a movie about a 60ish year old couple. While the plot revolves around the kidnapping of former auto rental exec. Robert Redford by former employee Willem Dafore, the device serves largley as a frame in which to examine a flawed, complicated, but ultamently strong and enduring relationship between partners of over 30 years.

Secound, The Clearing is refreshingly small in scoop despite its big stars. This could have been an indie film, the plot would have worked with lesser-knowen actors, but the whole thing is given more weight by allowing the established stars to play something just slightly unconventional. Also when one takes into account the quite limited number of players in the film, as well as the location shooting, I can't imagine that the movie cost all that much by Hollywood standards.

Thirdly and finally for my purposes, The Clearing is real. By real I mean both emotionally true, as well as logically true. This is how a kidnapping of this sort would happen, this is who would plan it, and the time it would take to occure I think is accuretly portrayed. This is the kind of story you could see yourself reading about in the newspaper, and in truth something very similar to this scenerio did happen about 12-to-15 years ago.

The Clearing is not along film (which helps it stay fresh), so its not going to be a big time commitment to see it. I'd recommend this movie as a good change of pace from your typical far, wether that be mainstream or art-house. The Clearing is a simple story strengthened by a hard, dare I say "Hollywood" backbone. It caries its own weight.


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