DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED, THE
Two petty crims recently out of jail, Danny (Martin Compston) and the older Vic (Eddie Marsden) kidnap Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton), a young woman with a rich father. They imprison her in a modified flat, strapping her to a bed in handcuffs. They're looking to grab a quick and sizeable ransom. But Alice is not going to take it lying down . . .
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Two men collect items to buy in a hardware store and go about adapting an ordinary London flat into a safe house with soundproof walls and lots of locks on doors, a bolted down bed with a harness and boarded up windows. All in silence. The first word of dialogue (about 8 minutes in) is "OK" and there is a bit more silent action after it. J Blakeson (referred to in the background notes simply as J) has made a thriller that has all the ingredients of a raw British crime flick, but with a sharp edge of unpredictability.
Tight as a three hander can be, the film pushes us to the edge of our seats from the start and never lets up. Gradually, as the full story is revealed, new elements are introduced to add complexity and new layers of conflict. But the least audiences know in advance the higher their adrenaline flow is going to be.
Martin Compston plays the younger crim, Danny, and while he looks innocent enough, Danny is capable of being devious - and tough. Vic, superbly portrayed by one of Britain finest character actors in Eddie Marsan, simply oozes danger. He's desperate enough to have planned this kidnap and is too far down the track to give up, even when things go wrong. But he isn't without feelings.
It's Gemma Arterton who really steals the show with a physically demanding and emotionally draining performance as Alice, the young woman whose life changes in a few seconds as she is taken and bundled into a van on her way home. Alice has to endure severe discomfort and several humiliations in front of the two men, and Arterton is clearly not given body doubles, even in some of the most confronting scenes.
Blakeson's most impressive achievement is restricting the film to his three actors. We don't see the actual kidnapping and we never see Alice's father or any of her family or even the police. Blakeson keeps us focused on this trio in a mesmerising piece of cinema.
Review by Louise Keller:
The twists are disarming and the surprises keep coming in this superb thriller that keeps us on tenterhooks from start to finish. The simple yet brilliant plot that writer / director J Blakeson constructs involving a kidnapping, morphs into a psychological tour de force in which relationships teeter on a knife's edge. The fact there are only three characters in the entire film adds to the intensity. There are revelations and complications as the power dynamic shifts when secrets are exposed and trust turns into betrayal. With every answer, another question is raised. In true nail-biting form, scenarios change, options arise, decisions must be made and consequences taken. Top performances, assured direction and a gripping music score make this a satisfying emotional journey.
Apart from the words 'OK' (as balaclavas are pulled down) and 'Help me' (as a girl wearing jeans and blue shoes struggles, kicks and screams as she is carried into a van), there is no dialogue at all for the film's first 15 minutes. In that time, economically and effectively, the scene is set. Two men are shopping in a supermarket. They know exactly what they are going to buy: a drill, a saw, rope and soundproofing are flung in the trolley. Then we see there are other items set aside, such as a gun, handcuffs, as a room is soundproofed, clothes are meticulously changed and a bed is prepared for the kidnap victim. Marc Canham's heart-pumping music dishes out ladles tension.
Ultimately, our fascination is in the relationships between the characters and we change our mind several times about each of them. There's a sexual component, too. Eddie Marsan is Vic, the brusque alpha male and kidnapping mastermind; Martin Compston is Danny, the nervous compliant colleague; Gemma Arterton stunning as Alice, the gutsy victim who finds herself handcuffed and tied to a bed with a hessian bag over her head. Everybody has a plan and everybody's plan changes. You know what they say about the best laid plans....
It's set on the Isle of Man, but it could be set anywhere. The characters are English but their motives, intentions and reactions are universal. It's filled with action, yet most of the action is internal. Taut, tense and thrilling, this film is a little beauty.
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DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED, THE (MA15+)
CAST: Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, Eddie Marsden
PRODUCER: Adrian Sturges
DIRECTOR: J. Blakeson
SCRIPT: J. Blakeson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Philipp Baubach
EDITOR: Mark Eckersley
MUSIC: Marc Canham
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ricky Eyres
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 9, 2010