Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Clearing

I stumbled across The Clearing when there was nothing else on one night. Willem Dafoe kidnaps a wealthy businessman, played by Robert Redford, to hold him for ransom. The movie alternates between scenes of Dafoe marching Redford through the woods at gunpoint, and what Redford's family are up to.

Most of the family scenes involve Helen Mirren, who is playing Redford's wife. She has called in the FBI, but the decision on whether to follow their advice keeps mostly resting with her. Demand to hear from Redford or not, stall for time or not, while also trying to keep anyone in the family from losing it.

Redford's character has a reputation for remembering everyone's names and faces, which makes them feel special when they deal with him. And he tries being personable with Dafoe, but it's somewhat hindered because they had met previously, and Redford doesn't remember him. Even so, they chat a bit, compare lives, but when it doesn't get Redford anywhere, he finally loses patience and tears into Dafoe verbally. It's hard to blame him, but it does feel a bit like the man with everything criticizing someone for not being as determined as skilled as him (Redford even pulls out the, "Nobody ever helped me/I did everything myself" line, which I tend to always suspect as bullshit). But credit for not developing Stockholm Syndrome.

On the home front, Mirren takes the approach of trying to keep things pretty much business as usual. There aren't any hysterics, no outbursts, even when she figures out her husband had not broken off an affair he was having. She seems to have resolved to maintain composure, probably for herself as much as her children. She has to continue as if he will return. They even celebrate the grandchild's first birthday as planned. It's impressive, if a little sad, because I can't quite tell what kind of toll holding that in takes on her. Maybe it's the best way for her, to focus on how she feels about him, versus what she fears may have happened.

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