J. Blakeson impresses with his debut feature as both director and writer with The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009). A kidnapping story filled with imaginative psychological twists, the film follows a hostage taking from a fresh perspective.
When ex-cons Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston) furnish a small flat for the kidnapping of Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton) the audience is invited to be part of their work, the beginning of the film creating a backdrop onto which its story unfolds. The Disappearance of Alice Creed capitalises on ambiguous locations with little reference to anyone or anything outside of the the circle created by its three main characters.
The intentions of both Vic and Danny are soon bought into question when the rigidity of their plan is undermined making for a suspense-filled thriller. When coupled with the copious twists that litter the film the suspense is intensified and makes for enthralling viewing. After being kidnapped, stripped and tied to a bed, Alice’s problems only snowball. Apart from suffering the indignity of weeing into a bottle, she must come to terms with her fate and convincingly plead her father for the ransom her captors are demanding. To Vic and Danny’s dismay it is not only their captive’s troubles that get progressively worse. With the two having ulterior motives, their well-conceived plan is soon jeopardised.
With none of the characters being fully clued-up on the full story behind everyone-else’s actions the audience find that they are playing the part of the absent detective in the film. It is testament to each of the actor’s ability that the film feels fresh throughout without the impetus of other characters. Gemma Arterton’s performance is indicative of why she is being lapped up by Hollywood, having recently appeared opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia: Sand of Time (2010) and Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace (2008). Her portrayal of Alice is both believable and commendable. The intricate world created by Marsan, Compston and Arterton, although limited, is filled with relationships that are vast and unexpected.
Despite all of its advantages, it feels as if something is still missing from The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Although ending satisfactorily (that is, there is no terrible cliffhanger that spurns an even more terrible sequel or sighs of exasperation at the clear lack of belief on the writer’s part in providing a conclusion), the expositions that follow the kidnapping of Alice fill the film with suspense but rob it of intimacy. This said, it is nonetheless an impressively imaginative independent film well worth the watch.