Gemma Arterton delivers such a brave performance in “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” that she deserves to have “Bond girl” stricken from ever appearing before her name again.
The Brit thriller marks the feature debut of writer/director J. Blakeson. What he’s cooked up could almost work on the Broadway stage, as it efficiently utilizes three characters and three characters only, one of whom is rich girl Alice Creed (Arterton).
In the opening moments, we see Vic (Eddie Marsan, “Sherlock Holmes“) and Danny (Martin Compston, “The Damned United“) boarding up and soundproofing an apartment before heading off in their van to capture their title prey. We don’t actually see the abduction, which is a smart, unexpected move on Blakeson’s part, who chooses instead to cut directly to the “acclimation” of Alice in her new environment: a room empty but for a bed, to which she is chained.
To scare and humiliate her, they cut off her clothes and take photos, strictly to send as part of the ransom demand to her moneybags father. As they tell the sobbing, hysterical young woman through their ski masks, they have no intention of hurting her … but will if push comes to shove.
What happens in the time that follows is virtually impossible to discuss without showing Blakeson’s hand. Suffice to say, not all the players in this vicious triangle are being entirely honest with one another, leading to not one, but two slam-bang revelations that alter not only viewers’ expectations, but the foundations of the story.
Although “Disappearance” loses a burst of steam in its too-extended ending, much of the film is tense. It’s also beautifully photographed, even if the environment is drab and ugly. Not everyone will be able to handle the movie in Alice’s initial scenes, as they feel rather realistic, but those who do will be rewarded with an intelligent, knowing crime story “ one of the genre’s better efforts this year. “Rod Lott