Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Movie Review: The Disapperance of Alice Creed

The Disappearance of Alice Creed *** ½
Directed By:
J Blakeson
Written By: J Blakeson.
Starring: Gemma Arterton (Alice Creed), Martin Compston (Danny), Eddie Marsan (Vic).

The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a clever thriller that keeps throwing in twist after twist right up until the final minutes of the movie. On the outside, it looks like a fairly common thriller – two men, Danny (Martin Compston) and Vic (Eddie Marsan) kidnap the beautiful Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton) to try and get her rich father to pay them millions in ransom money. But what starts out as a seemingly kidnapping drama gets more and more complex as the movie rolls along – and more and more secrets are revealed that make us question what we have seen.

I don’t really want to reveal too much of the plot of the film – because the primary pleasure of watching the film is to see how it all unfolds. The opening montage, which shows Danny and Vic soundproofing the room, getting their supplies ready and finally taking Alice, tying her to the bed, stripping her clothes off and replacing them is brilliantly well executed, and gets you hanging off the edge of your seat right from the start. But I never really had any idea what to expect next.

Danny and Vic are a study in opposites. Danny is younger, kinder, more naïve and gullible, and really doesn’t know what he is in for. Vic is older, harsh, sometimes downright cruel, but professional. You get the feeling from both of them that they don’t want to hurt Alice – Danny because I don’t think he could if he wanted to, and Vic because there is no advantage in doing so. He’ll kill her if he has to, but he doesn’t want to. Compston and especially Marsan establish their characters early; have a wonderful chemistry together, which helps because of everything that will come next. For her part, we only gradually get to know Alice – partly because for much of her early scenes, all she is doing is being tied to a bed and stripped. But she has her own secrets to reveal. Gemma Arterton, who was pretty much wasted in Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia earlier this summer, proves that she really can act, as long as she is given an opportunity to do so. She makes a rather daring decision to play with our sympathy for her character. She is the victim, guiltless in what happens to her, and yet by the end, I felt sorrier for the other two – strangely even more so for Vic, then for her.

Written and Directed by J Blakeson, The Disapperance of Alice Creed starts with a fairly standard setup – one that could have degenerated into a routine kidnapping movie, or perhaps even torture porn. But Blakeson is more intelligent than that – he continues to twist and turn his story, continues to hold the audience in his narrative for the entire running time of the movie. If there is a flaw it’s that The Disappearance of Alice Creed is so densely plotted, with so many twists and turns, that somewhere along the way the characters start to seem more like pawns in his game than actual people. Yet none of this occurs to you while you watching the film. You are too busy trying to figure out what the hell is going to happen next.

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