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The Disappearance of Alice Creed (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 100 minutes.

Not for children.

First time writer-director J Blakeson has created a taut, realistic thriller with several twists that gets more edgy as it moves along, despite the presence of only three characters, headed by a magnificent performance by Gemma Arterton as the often-naked, tied-up kidnapee. Martin Compston and Eddie Marsan are her rough, meticulous kidnappers who end up with more than they bargained for.

This is not just a tension-producing film to watch; it was the same to film. Says Blakeson, “By the end of the second day of shooting, the entire cast had been naked. Of course you want everyone to feel safe, particularly with Gemma tied up for shot after shot, so although everyone was fine it was still pretty intense: it’s disturbing on screen, but even more so when you’re in the room.”

Blakeson is an admirer of what came before, tracing the derivation of this film from a moment in Brief Encounter (1945) that inspired Billy Wilder’s 1960 hit The Apartment. He spent a lot of time watching Ron Howard’s Ransom (1996), where he noticed one moment in the film when a member of the gang cared for the victim. Like Wilder being inspired by a moment in Brief Encounter to produce The Apartment, that started him writing The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

Arterton is a comer. Although she is known recently for her feisty performance in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, she was also a Bond girl in Quantum of Solace (2008). Thus in three films she has shown she can be sexy, funny, and dramatic.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a sleeper, one of the best films of the year.