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Fine low-budget British crime thriller
on 20 May 2010
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.