All-star cast fails to save plodding kidnap 'drama'

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 2

Product:

The Clearing

OPENS SEPTEMBER 3, CERT 12A, 94 MINS

Having assembled a cast to die for?Robert Redford, Willem Dafoe, Helen Mirren? first-time director Pieter Jan Brugge made the disastrous error of not giving them material to stretch them. He’s an experienced producer, having helped to steer such epics as Heat, The Insider and The Pelican Brief to fruition, but, behind the camera, Brugge seems so reserved and over-scrupulous that the story splutters along on three cylinders before expiring prematurely. Dafoe plays ghoulish dork Arnold Mack, who kidnaps self-made businessman Wayne Hayes (Redford) outside the luxurious house he shares with wife Eileen (Mirren, cruelly deprived here of balls-out feistiness). Brugge’s plan is apparently to use the terror and uncertainty triggered by the kidnapping to probe behind the Hayes’ affluence and reveal their hidden failures and disappointments, but his technique is as artless as his manipulation of time-schemes is clumsy. And the film ends just as you’re expecting the big gear-change into a pulverising d