Tuesday, 2 August 2022

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)

I kept meaning to give this low-budget Brit-flick a look and discovered it this week on Disney Plus. It's a kidnap crime thriller with many things going for it, but mostly the claustrophobic setting, looking like it's probably come from a stage play.

It's the story of Alice, who is the daughter of a rich bloke, who is kidnapped for ransom by a couple of hoods who have met during a spell in prison and hatched this plan for the future when they get out. The story unfolds as we go, reveals upon reveals about who they are, what they are, who she is, what she is, her relationship with her father and a whole bunch of other stuff which I won't spoil here for you.

The first few minutes of the film are executed in eerie silence as not a word is said, but we witness them putting into place the environment where the deed will be done, a flat in what seems to be the UK somewhere. When the dialogue does get going, we soon find out that one of the criminals is a ruthless, hard-nosed and aggressive character - clearly the 'leader' of the two. The other is obviously more passive and seems to be led, taken along with the plan to some degree by the other.

Eddie Marsan as Vic is almost unrecognisable compared to the last time I saw him as Passive John May in Still Life, but also Tyrannosaur, The Illusionist, Mission: Impossible 3 and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. He's nasty, driven and psychotic here. The mark of a good actor, I guess, turning his hand to the demands of very different roles. Martin Compston is the passive criminal Danny, who we will know from plenty of Brit outings including Line of Duty and The Nest. He plays his part equally well, very differently.

The kidnapped girl is played by Gemma Arterton (Summerland, My Zoe) and the audience sees plenty of her as the hoods tie her to a bed, strip her off and photograph her for the ransom video/photos. It's cold, methodical and frightening. Nasty people doing nasty things to another person. She plays the role with conviction.

As you will imagine, not everything goes to plan and this becomes the bones of the story. We can enjoy those reveals, twists and turns as the players' characters play out this tragic tale. One could argue that the amount of 'unknowns' is unlikely and that the filmmakers have tried to make more of a story than it should have been to retain credibility, but not too much so. Go with it!

J Blakeson is the director, more recently known for I Care A Lot, and he keeps things tight as we all become crammed into the apartment with the characters, on top of each other, rarely meandering outside. It's nicely shot and he does a good job getting the required performances out of the actors.

It's an edge-of-the-seat thriller to some degree, if over the top and unlikely in parts, but it remains an edgy thriller with very good performances from the three actors. As I said at the outset, I saw it on Disney Plus but it's also available on most streaming services now, thirteen years on.

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