The Disappearance of Alice Creed, the first feature of British writer-director J Blakeson, is a taut, minimalist crime drama executed with precision and permeated by relentless tension.
A crisp, dialogue-free opening sequence witnesses ex-con partners Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston) stepping through the necessary preparations for a calculated abduction. A nearly furniture-less apartment is lined with soundproofing, restraints are fastened to the bed frame and numerous locks are bolted to the door before the pair snatches up socialite Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton) and tosses her in their stolen van. Only after she’s bound and gagged do their three distinct personalities begin to emerge.
Blakeson and his cinematographer, Philipp Blaubach, make full use of the limited space, (essentially a three-room flat) to craft a riveting thriller packed with clever twists and surprises. It’s difficult to discuss the film’s finer points without divulging the script’s secrets but, well, Blakeson makes full use of his characters too.
Arterton, who is typically reduced to a pretty face in her more mainstream films, is a convincing picture of fear and hopelessness when her beauty isn’t covered by a hood. Marsan is compelling as the gruff, experienced leader shoving around the subservient Compston, whose eye contact and mannerisms reflect a young, Scottish Edward Norton.
Violent without being gruesome and alarming without becoming disturbing, the film’s sustainable suspense is spliced with enough dry, intermittent humor and dynamic situations to save the story from descending into deeper, darker territory.
J Blakeson’s The Disappearance of Alice Creed is an attention grabber that never lets go.
4 out of 5.