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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 10.29.09] United Kingdom movie review thriller

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Year: 2009
Directors: J Blakeson
Writers: J Blakeson
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 6 out of 10

The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a minimalist, play-like piece that relies on stellar acting and a devilish plot to carry a slight idea. For the most part shot in a handful of rooms and relying on dialogue to serve up its shocks and twists, a lack of context and disinterest in anything outside its own plot mechanics lets down a well-scripted and expertly put together thriller.


The violence of The Disappearance of Alice Creed's opening scenes threatens a much more harrowing movie than we get, as Alice is kidnapped by two masked men and subjected to a terrifying and humiliating ordeal. Thankfully cutting off her clothes is just forensic preparation for an expertly executed ransom plan, but that doesn't stop it being a distressing introduction, especially given Gemma Arterton's convincingly terrified performance.

With the plan in swing the kidnappers unmask themselves to the audience - young petty criminal Danny (Martin Compston) and older, more professional Vic (Eddie Marson) - whose plan is nothing more complicated than to extort money from Alice's wealthy father. At this stage of the film it is the minute, well-researched detail of the kidnap that provides the fascination, though this soon changes with the first of many surprising reveals as the kidnappers are sucked into double-crossing each other and Alice plans her escape.

Stuck in an apartment together, Alice tied up in one room and Danny and Vic arguing in another, dialogue is mainly between the two kidnappers, who tackle their roles with varying levels of success. Martin Compston as Danny is probably the weakest actor in the film, too restrained to be entirely convincing; while Eddie Marson is so good as clinical, compassionate, dangerous, naive Vic he comes close to single-handedly providing the depth and meaning The Disappearance of Alice Creed so desperately needs.

Because for all its clever twisting, the focus on the dilemmas of the kidnappers is too self-contained to escape the feeling of pointlessness that dogs plot-focused films such as this one. This could have been rescued by Alice's side of the story - she has after all been through hell as the victim of a violent crime - but the part her character grows into is as cold and calculating as her kidnappers and completely stripped of feelings, a mere cog in the film's mechanics. This distancing goes so far as to damage enjoyment of The Disappearance of Alice Creed's well-written machinations, which without emotion or outside context eventually just become a bit boring.

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Andrew James (4 years ago) Reply

Boring? Really. I understand your complaint about wanting a little more from the girl, but the constant plot unveilings are far from boring and since they just keep coming throughout the entire run time of the film, one continues to ask oneself, "what could possibly happen next!?" And then next there is a great plot changing device that occurs. Loved this movie.

I'm surprised you only give it 6/10. I think it's more like an 8/10 or maybe an 8.5/10 - particularly for the budget and the "smallness" of the episode. I love "one room" movies and this sits nicely at the top of that list.

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Ben Austwick (4 years ago) Reply

I think I pretty much explain why I felt the plot, great though it is, lost my interest. There isn't enough of anything else. Having said that Eddie Marson's performance is worth the price of admission alone

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Anonymous (3 years ago) Reply

blow me


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