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The Disappearance of Alice Creed

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

AS DISTURBING as it is intriguing, The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a taut British thriller that marks the feature film debut of writer-director J Blakeson.

A three hander that’s mostly confined to one setting, the film picks up as experienced criminal Vic (Eddie Marsan) and his younger partner Danny (Martin Compston) kidnap millionaire’s daughter Alice (Gemma Arterton) and keep her bound and blindfolded while negotiating a ransom.

Complications occur once it emerges that both the abductors and their hostage have secrets that could scupper everything.

Blakeson’s film is an intricate and twisting character-based thriller that thrives on the strength of its expert cast.

Marsan is typically excellent as the crime veteran, flitting from psychotic rage one minute to confused hurt the next, while Compston emerges as a master manipulator.

Arterton, for her part, ensures that Alice doesn’t remain a victim and attempts to give as good as she gets, despite being bound and gagged for long periods of time.

Blakeson’s story also takes in some genuinely unexpected twists that help to keep all three performers on their toes, while keeping viewers guessing until the very final reel.

Yet in spite of the many things in the film’s favour, there are some disturbing elements that won’t be to everyone’s taste, and which make for decidedly uneasy viewing.

The opening sequence, during which Vic and Danny plot their kidnap, serves as a virtual “how to” guide to kidnap that’s probably ill-advised (even though a lot of movies fall into the trap), while some of the sexual elements are borderline voyeuristic and not always necessary.

Arterton, in particular, suffers from this latter point… being stripped naked on one occasion, while being forced to pee in full view of her kidnappers on another.

Blakeson may lay claim to wanting to show the difficulties facing his leading men – and certainly does his best to even things up by having all three in states of undress at various points – but I would question the need for showing too much in such explicit detail. It does heighten the tension, but in an uncomfortable way that may prove too much for a lot of viewers.

If, however, you’re prepared to tolerate some of the more hard-hitting/unflinching elements, The Disappearance of Alice Creed emerges as a crafty little thriller that is worth making the time to see.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 4, 2010