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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Disappearance of Alice Creed [DVD]
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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Whether you buy into its storyline of a crime that doesn't exactly go to plan or whether some of the events and twists seem a little far-fetched, The Disappearance of Alice Creed has at least one element that distinguishes it from the many modern British crime films - someone has at least taken the effort to come up with a worthwhile script that pays attention to characterisation and the mechanics of plot development.

That person is first-time writer/director J. Blakeson and careful consideration of who the characters are and how they develop over the course of the meticulously paced film ensure that The Disappearance of Alice Creed is constantly inventive and entertaining. And it needs to be - an independent production, shot on the Isle of Man on a low-budget, with only three characters seen over the length of the entire film, the action confined to only one or two locations where a young woman had been kidnapped and held for ransom by two clearly ruthless criminals - you're going to need some clever writing and plot developments to keep the viewer hooked.

You need more than a good script actually, you need good actors who can deliver it and make it work, and this is where the film's other strength lies - Gemma Arterton, Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston. These are challenging roles - not least for Arterton, who is brutally manhandled in the opening sequences of the film - but each of the characters have strengths and weaknesses that are gradually and dangerously exploited, shifting the balance of power between them on several occasions, and the actors prove to be more than capable of stretching to the dynamic that the roles demand.

There are certainly demands placed on the viewer also, both in the violent nature of the subject - mostly it's just the suggestion of violence, but no less intense for it - and in acceptance of some of the twists and revelations that don't stop until the clever placement of the final credits roll. Go with the flow however and this is a well-made film that manages to be gripping and entertaining and more than delivers on its promise.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2011
This surprised me by batting way above my expectations. Although a few small elements finger its origins as a moderately low budget thriller (they never show or explain HOW Alice is kidnapped, just show her getting stuffed into a van, which struck me as a great way to get around a thorny script problem), the vast majority of the film is a very tautly held tension thriller.
Alice is played with great bravery by Gemma Arterton, going through abduction, nudity, and various other humiliations for the role. Her character is excellently convincing as remarkably normal, and she pulls off all of the scenes with great aplomb, regardless of whether they're anger or emotion. Young actor Martin Compston is also surprisingly good as the younger of the kidnapping duo, 'Danny', playing a role that requires him to shift emotions and behaviour in some pretty radical directions. Delivering just the right mix of insolence, uncertainty and fear, he's extremely good. Eddie Marsan plays the older and more frighteningly unpredictable of the kidnappers - a man with a violent past and some clear aggression issues. Never a fan of him in the past, I was glad to see this is his best performance to date, playing his role terrifically. The whole film is a 3-hander, relying on the leads playing against each other in a small selection of locations, the main one being the flat they've so meticulously soundproofed and fortified at the beginning. With superb performances like this, I didn't notice the numbers, and was in fact extremely surprised when the cast list rolled past and I realised they'd carried off the whole movie without having any need for anybody else. That, I think above all else, is a sign of just how well it's been done. There are a lot of moments of real tension and panic, some believable mind games, and some very effective twists. On the basis of this blisteringly good little movie, director J Blakeson should have a bright future ahead of him.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The Disappearance of Alice Creed (TDOAC) stars Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) as our titular rich-girl who is kidnapped in order to extort money from her reputedly very-rich father. The kidnappers, two ex-cons Vic (Eddie Marsan - Sherlock Holmes) and Danny (Martin Compston - The Damned United) are seemingly extremely well prepared and motivated; fortifying & soundproofing the flat before bringing Alice there and tying her up, but the interaction between the three is not as straight-forward as it first seems...

TDOAC starts with a very snappy set of shots of the kidnappers preparing, the initial 5 minutes of the film are completely wordless which absolutely captivated my attention, dying for someone to explain just what was going on. The rest of the film follows suit well with the dialogue being terse, concise and emotive and the majority of the experience taking place in the munited two-room flat in a nameless part of Scotland.

The acting is unparalleled as the relationships between the trio develop; Arterton plays the distressed & humiliated daughter perfectly making you feel for the character, whilst Eddie Marson fills the role of the domineering, psychotic and violent ex-convict with great flair. The man-of-the-match, as it were, has to be Martin Compston who really gets to work through the full emotional range with his Janusian character adding most of the drama and intrigue. There are only three actors in this entire movie - quite a feat in itself - but you will never be bored with the story, this is the mark of great writing in my opinion.

[As an aside, I know of only one other film in recent history with this few actors, a favourite of mine - Sleuth starring only Caine & Law and based on a Pinter play, highly recommended if you enjoy psychological thrillers like TDOAC]

Extra content: There is a director's commentary that overlays the film by J Blakeson and also a making of featurette and a couple of minutes of extended scenes that didn't make the cinematic cut. The extras also include the original storyboards so you can see how the original vision made it to the silver screen, it's nothing unique and not a reason to buy the film on it's own but it's stood on the shoulders of a very good film.

I can't go any further without ruining the plot; but this film will keep you on the edge of your seat for the 98-minute duration as you are blindsided by twist after twist and left hanging in disbelief. The ending is open to interpretation but gives a broader meaning to the title and is a great flourish to an already solid film that will leave you thinking. Highly recommended for a tense & intelligent hostage thriller that will keep you guessing!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2010
This is a pretty effective crime thriller, with Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston playing two greedy ex-cons who mastermind the abduction of Gemma Arterton, hoping to pick up a juicy ransom for their troubles. The first few scenes, which document the preparation of Alice's kidnapping, are superbly shot and edited, and all three performances are excellent. There are certainly flaws though- the one location setting which dominates a big chunk of the film does become slightly tiresome, as does Arterton's over-reliance on a certain four letter word when she's ad-libbing some of her dialogue. Also, some of the character motivation doesn't really seem to add up (Compston's obsession with disposing of a shell-casing makes no sense at all, when all he has to do is put it in his pocket!). Overall though it's fairly gripping with a good finale and most crime film fans will no doubt enjoy spotting a few directorial nods to films such as Shallow Grave and the great Miller's Crossing.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 4 October 2010
Two small time criminals have a plan: kidnap the daughter of a millionaire, hold her for ransom, get the money and disappear somewhere hot. Sounds like a fairly simple plan, doesn't it? It is, at least in theory. Of course very little is simple in The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a first rate British thriller which rises above the limitations of its small budget to deliver a solid tale with an outstanding performance from Gemma Arterton as Alice. I can't think of many actresses who'd put themselves through the things Arterton does here, and while there will be viewers uncomfortable with the aggression shown and implied towards her character, trust me when I say the victim is not who you always think it is.

This isn't a thriller in the sense that there's a police investigation into the kidnap; there are no car chases, no gunfights, no helicopters and no Bruce Willis in a dirty vest. This is about as British as it gets. Low, slightly grimy and with one eye on a better life. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2013
This movie is just OUTSTANDING!!! I normally don't write reviews for anything but I felt I had to for this film. The director/writer has shown you can make a great film without spending millions on it, years on it, excessive CGI, excessive sfx and big names. This film doesn't have any of that but what it does have is great story, great atmosphere, great dialogue, great cinematography, great soundtrack and SUPERB acting. What more can you ask for?

It only has three characters in it and a few locations with the bulk of the film taking part in a flat. Believe me this film will keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat. Most films out there with 100 times the budget witht A-list names but haven't got anything on this.

I said it didn't have big names but that's not quite true. It stars Gemma Arterton who has been in some mega films including Clash of the Titans and Quantum of Solace. Before making DAC she had just come from making Prince of Persia and she was one of the co stars so she's not exactly a struggling actor and can choose her projects. One of the reasons she got attached to this film was the script and this is all explained in the bonus part of the DVD.

The other two actors are also great and in fact, in my opinion, the best performance is given by Eddie Marsan who is a veteran British actor. All three are great though.

The DVD itself has commentary on it and some other goodies so it's good value for money.

Best of all this film is 100% British.

Buy it, watch it and enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 20 October 2012
I`d gladly watch Gemma Arterton reading her tax returns in a sack in a dark room on a moonless night, so I was happy to see this neat little British thriller, especially as it also features that snappy, incisive actor Eddie Marsan.
I can`t help thinking my fellow one-star and five-star reviewers have, in their differing ways, missed the point (for example, if this deserves 5 stars, what about The Third Man or Vertigo?) but this is bound to divide viewers, particularly as the opening fifteen minutes or so are somewhat hard to watch - which of course they are meant to be. I confess I found them pretty tough-going, and then the film gets under way. First there`s a superbly gripping, silent opening sequence of several minutes, so that when one of the two kidnappers eventually speaks, it is quite a surprise, not to mention a relief.
I agree to some extent with those who complain of its lack of cinematic ambition. There is something typically British about the film which has a `made-for-TV` feel to it that is at times frustrating. But it is a debut film and, as such, deserves one`s applause for getting so much right.
It`s a good, taut little thriller, not much more than that. It could almost have come from Pinter`s pen, except he would have written something even more ambiguous, though the two central male characters are very Pinteresque, like their dialogue, stripped to the minimum as it is.
Arterton is excellent as the young woman who spends most of the film bound to a makeshift bed, Marsan is riveting as always, and Martin Compston is fine (if necessarily irritating) in a far from likeable role as...well, I`ll leave new viewers to discover just who he plays.
I was pretty hooked by this well-made, claustrophobic, nicely perverse film, but would make no great claims for it.
A twisted, twisty thriller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 October 2012
J Blakeson's 2009 claustrophobic kidnap drama, The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, was his feature directing debut and a very promising one it is too. Shot on the Isle Of Man and featuring a cast of just three, Gemma Arturton as kidnapee Alice and Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston as ex-cons and kidnappers (respectively) Vic and Danny, for me, the film appears (after 30 minutes or so) to be harmlessly wandering off into the territory of a very much middling, cliché-ridden effort, but thereafter the strength of the acting performances (particularly Messrs. Marsan and Compston) plus the endless stream of inventive (and OK, in some cases, rather far-fetched) plot twists really does begin to draw in the audience and heighten the levels of tension and expectation.

Having got off to a promising start as Vic and Danny are shot preparing their kidnap location in silence, but with military precision, Blakeson's film initially fails to convince, until the obvious frictions between Vic and Danny start to raise their profile. Now this is, of course, a fairly obvious plot development - however what follows is not. The ever reliable Marsan, in particular, and the rather overlooked talent of Compston (here, without the ludicrous mockney accent he was forced to adopt in the recent TV series Line Of Duty) begin to shine through, and even Arturton gradually becomes more convincing (albeit in a much lesser role than the two male leads). My most significant reservations on the film are that the central premise around the relationships between the main three protagonists does not always quite ring true, and the film's ending is a little bit of a cop out (which, as the accompanying interview with the director states, was actually forced on Blakeson by the film's backers). Blakeson should, however, be congratulated on making such a promising first effort, particularly given the challenges of making work such a small-scale and intimate drama.

Certainly not a classic, therefore, but well worth catching, and potentially identifying a promising new British writer/director in J Blakeson.

My final observation on the film sees me getting on one of my perennial hobby horses, that of the cinema distribution of (in particular) British films. I distinctly remember on the film's release intending to see it on the big screen (and bear in mind here I have ready access to London cinemas), but so limited was its distribution that this proved impractical. This is, for me, a recurring problem, also applying to the release of films such as Tyrannosaur, The Scouting Book For Boys, An Angel's Share, NEDS, Wild Bill, ... and many others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2013
Showing Hollywood that you do not need a multimillion budget to make make a nail biting, tense thriller, J. Blakeson's 'The Dissapearance of Alice Creed' is the story of a kidnapping that slowly unravels into betrayal and tragedy. With a cast of just three actors and minimal locations, the film is carried by excellent performances from Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston and Eddie Marsan, who is incredible as the intense and possibly psychotic Vic. The film was labelled misogynistic by some reviewers on its release, but I would argue that it is entirely pro feminist. It is in fact an essay on love, betrayal, and greed, with well rounded and surprisingly sympathetic characters. This is an excellent film which is already one of my top ten movies. It proves that all you need is a good script and actors to produce cinema this powerful. CGI and a huge budget will only take a movie so far. This has none of these, but is still better than any blockbuster I have seen in recent years.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
It just goes to show a gripping, exciting thriller can be made without spending millions of pounds, or a cast of thousands of "name" actors. It also goes to show that us Brits make fantastic films.

The film begins with two men preapring a flat to kidnap a hostage, stapling carpet underlay to the walls, securing doors and "preparing" the bed. The kidnap itself then takes place, which is a scene which is quite disturbing, and makes you think this is going to be a film full of violence towards the captive. It is not. Get past this scene, and although the film has a continual threat of violence, the story line of bluff and counter-bluff, cross and double-cross draws you in, leaving you gasping "well I did not expect that!".

Well acted by the three characters, all of whom are beleiveable.
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