Posts Tagged ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’


alice-creed-006Three characters, three, maybe four sets and one hundred minutes of unrelenting tension. That’s the best way to describe “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” the feature film debut from British director J Blakeson. It’s a small, low budget thriller, but nonetheless is as thrilling as any movie we’ve seen this summer.

The risk with reviewing “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” is in giving you enough detail to whet your appetite but not enough to spoil the movie’s many unexpected twists and turns. I can tell you that Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton) is a woman kidnapped by ex-cons Vic and Danny (Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston) because her father is wealthy, she’s an only child and she’s, quote, slim enough to carry, unquote. After following a meticulously planned abduction they demand a ransom of two million pounds while Alice is trussed up in a soundproof room. Enter complications. End of synopsis.

Like “Shallow Grave,” another English suspense with more twists and turns than Piccadilly Circus, “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” in addition to the tightly written script, uses music and clever editing to create an atmosphere thick with tension. Its taut construction and claustrophobic feel are typical for the genre, but director Blakeson steps outside the conventions of kidnapping movies to add in elements that are truly surprising. For instance, and this isn’t a spoiler, when a stray shell casing can become the catalyst for not only humor but anxiety you know the movie is connecting. On the surface it feels like a 70s exploitation flick—the kind of thing Quentin Tarantino would rescue from drive-in obscurity to release on DVD—but there is much more here than schlock.

Beneath the movie’s sheen of tension and brutality is a story about how complicated kidnapping can turn out to be when feelings become involved. It is a psychological drama about trust, power and what happens when you deviate from the plan.

As the puffy-eyed Alice, Gemma Arterton proves there is more to her than just the pretty face we’ve seen in “The Prince of Persia,” “Quantum of Solace” and “Clash of the Titans.” Despite spending most of the film in chains with a bag over her head she manages, by times, to convincingly convey vulnerability, genuine fear and strength. It’s a complicated role that sees her go through a lot, both mentally and physically, and she pulls it off.

Equally strong are Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston as the kidnappers. Marsan’s Vic is an intriguing bad guy—controlling, unpredictable but also mannered and meticulous. Best known as Scott, the angry driving instructor in “Happy-Go-Lucky,” his presence supplies much of the movie’s feeling of unease. Compston’s Danny seems like a more standard criminal type, but reveals unexpected deeper dimensions to the character when the twists start flying. Is he a callous opportunist or a victim of the domineering Vic?

“The Disappearance of Alice Creed” is a nasty little piece of work. It is remorselessly bleak but carefully crafted enough to be intriguing.

Ten overlooked Hollywood gems RICHARD CROUSE METRO CANADA Published: December 22, 2010

gemma_arterton_vogue_magazine_italia_december_2010_4According to, 648 movies were released in 2010. Here are some of 2010’s releases you may have missed but are worth a look.

Scott Pilgirm vs. The World
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World stars Michael Cera as a 22-year-old Torontonian who must defeat his girlfriend’s Seven Evil Exes if he wants to be with her. It’s a wild ride that nails the pop culture zeitgeist but also tells a universal human story.

Cyrus is an odd movie. It’s about a lonely guy, the woman of his dreams … and her quirky son played by Jonah Hill. Not quite a comedy, not quite a drama, it falls somewhere in between. Just like real life.

In Splice, a creature goes from newborn to troubled teen in just a matter of weeks. Starring Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, it’s giddy good fun; the rare sci-fi flick that revels in its B-movie roots while also offering up something to think about.

Harry Brown
Michael Caine has rarely been better than he is in Harry Brown, a gritty Teabag Western about an old man in the Elephant and Castle section of London who strikes back after a gang kills his best mate.

Rob Reiner’s Flipped is coming-of-age Rashômon filtered through Leave it to Beaver with a dash of The Wonder Years thrown in for good measure. In other words, it’s a touching, but idiosyncratic film about growing up.

Get Low
Get Low, the unlikely story of a man arranging his own funeral, took on three hankie status as Robert Duvall played an old man looking back on his wasted life.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed
This kidnapping drama features three characters, three, maybe four sets and one hundred minutes of unrelenting tension. It’s a nasty little piece of work, remorselessly bleak but carefully crafted enough to be intriguing.

Winter’s Bone
Winter’s Bone should be seen not only for its uncompromising story of an Ozark girl who will do anything to keep her family together, but also for the breakout performance of its star, Jennifer Lawrence.

In Defendor, Woody Harrelson plays a man whose rich inner life spills out into his real life. By day he’s dead-end-job-Arthur but at night he’s superhero Defendor. Gritty and funny, Harrelson breathes life into a role that could easily have fallen into cliché.

Marwencol, a documentary about a man with a severe brain injury who creates his own world as therapy is one of the funniest, most touching and inspirational films of the year.