Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Disappearance of Alice Creed: Grade B

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)

Martin Compston, Eddie Marsan, Gemma Arterton; Writer-Director J Blakeson.

Two U.K. thugs (Marsan and Compston) kidnap the adult daughter (Arterton) of a millionaire. They chain her to a bed in an apartment they have converted to a prison by boarding up the windows and installing soundproofing and lots of locks. The father agrees to pay. The tricky part of any kidnap job is the exchange: cash for person. There’s no foolproof way to do it, and this one does not turn out as expected.

The film was apparently made with a near-zero budget, so there are only the three actors, and essentially one set, the prison apartment. That does make the presentation slightly claustrophobic and the action restricted mainly to words, but the script is so well-written and the directing so extremely tight, and acting so good, that instead of claustrophobic, one could say the presentation was just more theatrical than cinematic in tone.

The acting is quite strong by the two men, especially Compston, who has great facial gestures reminiscent of Edward Norton. The story is an inconsequential genre piece, but the writing keeps you engaged by forcing repeated reconceptualization of the characters’ relationships. There are a couple of weak spots where characters are not true to their motivation, but overall, one’s attention never flags in this solid crime drama. For three players and one set, that is a remarkable achievement.

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