Friday, August 6, 2010

Movie with Abe: The Disappearance of Alice Creed

The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Directed by J Blakeson
Released August 6, 2010

There’s hardly any better way to get to know characters than to have a small few of them. “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” features only three characters – the daughter of a wealthy man and the two men who kidnap her. It’s a brave gamble that pays off remarkably well. Precious few locations are used in the film and it’s up to the three people on screen to convey anything that might need to be known, and all three respond commendably to that charge. It’s a magnificently captivating experience to see these three people in the midst of what has to be the most intense day of their lives.

For actress Gemma Arterton, who plays the kidnapped Alice Creed, this film was a great chance to prove she can really act. It was filmed in between big-budget epics “Prince of Persia” and “Clash of the Titans,” both of which have already been released in the United States, and afforded a much more personal role squeezed in among the blockbusters. Arterton says that she “needed to do something that scared me” and was especially impressed with the opportunity to make a good thriller rather than a typical British film, which she describes as “comedies and kitchen-sink dramas.” This experience, she says, was more like doing a play, adding that it was filmed pretty much chronologically.

Arterton spends most of the film tied up, but her character is hardly one-dimensional. While audiences should initially be sympathetic to the clear victim in this situation, things get blurry as the film goes on. When her kidnappers remove her gag, the first thing out of Alice’s mouth is a lie, fabricating a fake daughter to encourage them to let her go. When asked about Alice, Arterton points out that “some people really aren’t on her side.” For Arterton, that’s fine, since she doesn’t enjoy playing characters that everybody likes and finds it boring. She describes Alice as “stuck-up, spoiled, clever, wily, and relentless.” The complexity of the kidnapping victim makes for an extraordinarily three-dimensional film.

Arterton’s fierce performance as Alice, who she was worried would be really annoying because she “was screaming all the time,” is only one of three terrific turns in the film. Martin Compston, who plays young kidnapper Danny, is great as the more panicky and less put-together villain whose motivations from the start are unclear. There’s no comparison, however, to the marvelous Eddie Marsan (“Happy-Go-Lucky”), who delivers a terrifying, brilliant performance as lead kidnapper Vic. The three of them make for a fantastic tiny ensemble. The film itself is more than worthy of its superb stars. From its excellent, exciting opening sequence to the twists and turns that come in only 100 minutes of energetic storytelling, it’s one of the most enticing and intriguing films of the year so far.


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