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Taut, superbly executed and consistently engrossing, “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” marks an auspicious feature debut for writer-director J Blakeson. The three-character thriller takes place largely in one location but never feels claustrophobic thanks to a tense atmosphere that doesn’t lets up from start to finish. Showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film is due for a theatrical release in August.
Sans opening credits, the film begins with a superb opening montage depicting the detailed preparations of two men for what clearly is going to be something nefarious. As we soon learn, they are the older Vic (Eddie Marsan) and his young associate Danny (Martin Compston), and their plan involves the kidnapping of the titular character (Gemma Arterton), a college student and daughter of a rich businessman.
Soon, the comely woman is brought to a well-secured apartment, stripped of her clothing and photographed so that the ransom demand, delivered by computer, is that much more effective.
The resulting machinations as the men nervously await a response while the young woman alternately tearfully and rebelliously struggles with her captors form the heart of the story line, which delivers several surprising plot twists involving the relationships among the three characters that are too good to spoil by revealing.
Suffice it to say that nothing is quite as it seems, with the proceedings enlivened by intricate plotting and numerous sequences that ratchet up the suspense considerably. The filmmaker is able to get much mileage with such episodes as one involving the attempted discarding of an errant bullet casing without resorting to the mindless violence and sensationalism so endemic to current crime dramas.
Adding immeasurably to the film’s impact are the superb performances of the three-person cast: As the no-nonsense Vic, Marsan again displays the compelling intensity previously on display in such films as “Vera Drake” and “Happy-Go-Lucky”; Compston brings fascinating shadings to his performance as the emotionally conflicted co-conspirator; and Arterton, spending much of the running time hog-tied to a bed while wearing a hood and gag, handles the rigorous physical and emotional demands of her role with great skill.
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Anchor Bay Films/A Bigger Boat)
Production: CinemaNX, Isle of Man Film
Cast: Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston, Gemma Arterton
Director-screenwriter: J Blakeson
Producer: Adrian Sturges
Executive producers: Steve Christian, Marc Samuelson
Director of photography: Philipp Blaubach
Editor: Mark Eckersley
Production designer: Ricky Eyres
Music: Marc Canham
No rating, 100 minutes
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