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The Clearing is a 2004 drama / thriller film, and is a directorial debut by Pieter Jan Brugge, an Academy Award nominated producer. The film is loosely based on the real-life kidnapping of Gerrit Jan Heijn that took place in the Netherlandsmarker in 1987. The screenplay was written by Justin Haythe. The film went direct-to video in the United Kingdom. The film was shot in and around Asheville, North Carolinamarker and Downtown Pittsburgh, PA.

Plot

Wayne Hayes (played by Redford), and his wife Eileen (played by Mirren) are living the American dream in a wealthy Pittsburghmarker suburb, 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 (played by 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 FBImarker.

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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