The Disappearance of Alice Creed
dir-scr J Blakeson
prd Adrian Sturges
with Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, Eddie Marsan
release UK 30.Apr.10, US 6.Aug.10
09/UK 1h38
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Who's zooming who? Arterton

compston arterton marsan
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Disappearance of Alice Creed This thriller is so tightly contained that it feels like a stage play with three characters and one set. But director Blakeson takes a cinematic approach, and his use of the camera, editing and sound combine to keep us utterly riveted.

Danny and Vic (Compston and Marsan) painstakingly prepare their plan and execute it impeccably, grabbing young socialite Alice (Arterton) and bringing her back to their secure flat, where she's stripped and tied down. A ransom demand goes to her father, and then things start to fall apart. Vic is an obsessive hothead determined to make sure Danny doesn't slip up, but Danny has a secret that Vic can't begin to imagine. And Alice is a much feistier hostage than either of them expects.

To say that the power shifts around these three characters over the course of the film is a simplification. As the events progress, there are confrontations and revelations that constantly redefine the connections between these desperate people. And while there are a few nagging doubts here and there, Blakeson lets the information dribble out in a remarkably natural way. As an audience we never feel cheated, and we're never bored for a second.

Actually, we're afraid to blink and miss something. Each of the actors brings an electric unpredictability to their role. Arterton makes Alice believably angry and scared, and she cleverly lets us in on Alice's knowledge that, as a woman, she has some sway over these men. Compston is excellent as the likeable one with an intriguing flaw that puts him in jeopardy with both Alice and Vic. And Marsan is at his intense, vein-popping best, making us shrink from the screen during Vic's rants but always keeping his insecurities there for us to see.

Blakeson captures this with extremely sure-handed direction, shaping sequences into telling montages and dropping in significant cutaways, sideways glances and a constant sense of tragic foreboding. As it progresses, the suspense is so expertly set up that it's nearly unbearable. We have no idea what will happen, and the film's rough, harsh, confident tone means no one is safe. By the end, when the twisting, shifting plot finally plays itself out, Blakeson has a final little kick that's almost like him winking at the camera. And by then he's earned it.

cert 18 themes, strong language, violence, nudity 19.Oct.09 lff

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall