(Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, Willem Dafoe / R / 97 mins / Fox Searchlight)
Overview: A wealthy CEO (Robert Redford) is kidnapped by a disgruntled former employee (Willem Dafoe) and held for ransom deep in the forest. While his wife (Helen Mirren) negotiates with the kidnapper, she begins to wonder whether her husband is already dead.
Verdict: Without Mirren's performance, it would be easy to mistake 'The Clearing', with its predictable story development, for a Lifetime movie of the week! With the emotional reins of the movie firmly in her grasp, Mirren never condescends to her character, investing her with an unshakable poise that unnerves even as it reassures those around her. In truth, 'The Clearing' is a character-driven suspenser that engages the mind more than the emotions, but neither grippingly. You'll be with it every second and intrigued to its last, carefully constructed frame regardless of how much is stinks sometimes of that TV movie status.