on November 4, 2010
I had heard a lot of people recommend this to me before I finally saw it, so my expectations were high. After the opening five minutes my expectations were met and the stakes even raised. I really don't want to give anything away here as the less you know about the movie going in the better, but don't go into it thinking it's on par with a "Reservoir Dogs" or a "Saw." It's very, very good and the directing makes it claustrophobic and scary, but by the end of the film it has slipped into more than a few genre cliches that let out a little steam but not TOO much.
All you need to know about the plot is that there are these two men who go through an elaborate series of preparations before kidnapping a young woman, Alice Creed, off the street. One of the most fun things about the movie is how the power shifts from one character to another to another and you're never certain who has the upperhand, who is lying or who will "win" the day. In this way, it is very similar to "Shallow Grave." Eddie Marsan plays the older of the two kidnappers and you've seen him in movies before but never this good. He is very impressive here.
A good one to check out but make sure you have enough time to watch it straight through as the pacing is relentless and you won't be able to turn it off once it begins.
on January 22, 2012
There really isn't a whole lot I can tell you about THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED. I happened on to it, started watching it...expected to lose interest...and then kept thinking, "Oh, wow, that's different."
What got me to start watching was Gemma Arterton, a "Bond girl" from the last 007 entry, QUANTUM OF SOLACE. She's gorgeous and very watchable. At the beginning of this film, she's snatched off a street, cuffed, gagged, hooded and dragged into a sound-proof apartment. She's also stripped and redressed.
And just when you think you're going to lose interest..."Wow, that's different."
So I'm not going to discuss anymore about this interesting, twisting little film of only three characters.
Just check it out.
This film opened and disappeared quickly in the DFW area, so I'm certainly glad I caught up to it via Blu ray. A first time director (J Blakeson) puts together a taut thriller using only 3 actors and a minimalist set...not to mention a minimalist plot, albeit filled with twists and turns. Alice, a 20 something lass is the daughter of a rich businessman somewhere in England. She is kidnapped and taken to a well prepared (soundproofing, locks, etc.) apartment to wait for an eventual ransom. Alice is played by Gemma Arterton whose previous credits include eye candy roles in "The Prince of Persia" and "Clash of the Titans". She's something else here.
The girl can act as well as look good. In a demeaning, vulnerable role, she is stripped naked, force to pee in a bottle, tied to a bed and ruthlessly gagged with one of those ball-in-the-mouth things that sex dominatrix like to use. It's fun to figure out what's going on because we suspect Alice is familiar with one of the kidnappers. So really, what's going on? Yes, a big surprise. Even after we find this out, our questions aren't answered. The film is filled with tension and is certainly an obscure gem of a picture.
on July 14, 2013
This devious little thriller simply *must* be seen. But you should know what you're NOT getting, in order to avoid disappointment.
I had seen only the trailer and good reviews on Amazon. I was expecting more of an action-y British gangster film. But it's not really an action film -- although MUCH happens -- and that's a *good* thing. It is devilishly suspenseful.
The first ten minutes are masterful. They quickly becoming horrifyingly suspenseful -- totally without dialogue. (The first line of dialogue is said at approx 6 min in.) That sounds boring, but it is the exact opposite: riveting. The story begins, and you must pay attention. The more attention you pay, the more compelling it becomes. This is *not* a movie to have on in the background while you clear off the kitchen table or do dishes. (My boyfriend does this all the time. It drives me nuts because he'll say, "Eh, I didn't think [insert movie title] was that good" and I'll say, "Well, you really didn't watch it, you mostly had your back to it!" And then when I make him sit down and watch movies I've liked, he'll say, "I totally didn't get that the first time I saw it" and I'm like, "Yeah, 'cause you didn't *see* it!!" Argh.)
This is a movie to make popcorn for and sit down to really *watch* -- don't answer your phone, don't play with your tablet, make sure any kids are in bed and can't disturb you.
The actions of the two men in preparation to commit a serious crime heighten the suspense. The supplies they gather are curious, then intriguing, then horrifying in their implications. The spaces in which they work are large with wide camera angles. Over time, throughout the film, both the spaces and camera angles slowly shrink, adding a visual claustrophobia to the psychological tension as the film progresses.
The soundtrack is like a fourth character (and I'd like to buy it). It never gives things away, but alternates setting the mood with punctuating the plot twists and shifting dynamics. Pure music -- synthesizer-based modern sounds alternating with haunting organic notes of solo viola or cello -- evokes moods and heightens the emotion of unexpected twists, moments of pathos, shifts of alliance. It doesn't use pop music to buttress lousy chemistry or muddy action.
This movie is not what the trailer implies. Truly unexpected plot twists alternate with slow reveals of the relationship dynamics, character back-stories (without flashbacks), and shifting alliances. Every time I thought I knew what would happen, who the characters were, what they were about to do -- I was wrong. As a jaded and cynical movie fan, and tired of predictable, cliche-ish, dumbed down movies, I found this movie fiendishly fun to try to figure out -- and I never really succeeded.
Gemma Arterton's Alice is integral to the plot. She does a great job, she definitely holds her own -- but she by no means carries the film by herself, as the Amazon summary says. It's truly an ensemble, albeit a small one of only three people. The two male leads were gripping to watch. Eddie Marsan is amazing as Vic. (He was Inspector Lestrade from Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes reboots; he was also in two of the Channel 4 Red Ridings, and in the BBC's Little Dorrit). Vic's evolution is unexpected, believable, brilliantly done, and (by the end) surprisingly sympathetic. Martin Compston was new to me (I never watched Monarch of the Glen). But he's fantastic as the (initially) inexplicably conflicted Danny, seemingly one-down in the criminal partnership. In fact, the acting by both male leads is so good, your sympathy shifts back and forth from the obviously sympathetic victim character Alice to the two males, who initially are totally unsympathetic (because you think you know who they are and what they're about to do).
The Disappearance of Alice Creed is not a "big" film with crashing violence and lots of guns and explosions. It's one of those films where the implied violence is almost as devastating as the violence that *is* committed. Like David Cronenberg's films, when violence or action occurs in this film, it *means* something: it has consequences -- it's not just there for vicarious and bloodless audience thrills. And although this movie fraks with you, it's not a conventional mind-frak movie, either. It's definitely a psychological thriller.
Don't view this movie expecting Sexy Beast or In Bruges or a Guy Ritchie movie -- or even Layer Cake, with which it has some kinship psychologically and perhaps morally (but it never tries to be as consciously cool as Layer Cake). The Disappearance of Alice Creed has more in common thematically with the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple or No Country For Old Men, or with Carl Franklin's thriller One False Move. It's deadly serious about itself and that pays off in how unique and authentic the plot and characters feel. It's up to you whether you find the ending uplifting or bleak, a morality tale or an inevitability.
WARNING: Stick through the first half hour/forty minutes, even if it looks/feels like it's about to become cheap Hollywood torture porn. It isn't. It's a much better and smarter film than that. By smart, I do not mean clever like a Guy Ritchie film is clever. (Not that there is anything wrong with that: I love Ritchie's films.) I mean, the entire thing could have easily been B-movie material -- but the script, the directing, the acting, and the execution elevate it way above a B-movie.
There is a lot of female nudity, but I did not find it gratuitous (there's also a good amount of corresponding male nudity, under different circumstances). It's typically British matter-of-fact nudity. The female nudity serves the plot and heightens the vulnerability of the victim, but, as a woman, I found it to be as tastefully done as possible under the circumstances. If this had been made in Hollywood, the nudity would have been far greater, far more gratuitous, and much more like B-movie torture-porn. Fortunately, it wasn't made in Hollywood -- one of the reasons why it's so good.
In a completely unintentional way I'm sure, I almost find The Disappearance of Alice Creed to thumb its nose at your average Hollywood thriller. It shows how good a movie can be when you focus on script, plot, acting, and direction -- to the exclusion of focusing on butts-in-seats and opening weekends, or trying to tweak those with focus groups and test screenings.
The DVD extras are decent. Haven't listened to the commentaries yet, but the dual-screen comparison of the storyboards with the actual film was interesting and shows how well they adhered to the original visual conception. The outtakes are funny moments of the actors forgetting their lines or being unable to get past a fit of giggles (the guys, surprisingly). I watched the outtakes mostly to assure myself that nothing really bad happened to any of the actors -- that's how authentic and compelling the plot and characters are! I feel silly admitting that, but the first third of the movie is rather knuckle-whitening to sit through, especially as a woman -- you really fear the worst for Alice.
Also: as with many British films, I had to watch it the first time with the subtitles on, or I wouldn't have understand some of the dialogue. I recommend this to non-British viewers unfamiliar with the accents of various parts of the UK. My second and third viewings, I didn't need the subtitles. (You won't get many subtitles for the first ten minutes, because there is no dialogue.)
on June 17, 2014
My boyfriend and I think that Diana Rigg, Eliabeth Hurley, Kate Beckinsale, Hannah Harper and Gemma Arterton are our favorite British actresses. When I saw this title on my recommendations at Amazon.com, I decided to order it. It arrived promptly and was in a sturdy package. The DVD seems new. Gemma Arterton stars as a millionaire's daughter who is abducted by two men who wear masks. They ask 2,000,000 pounds ransom for her. The plot becomes complex. One man knows her, and he reveals himself to her without his mask. She manages to take his pistol, and the situation is tense. There is also tension from this man being her lover as well as the lover of his male partner whom he met in prison. There are various alliances among the three cast members in this exciting tale. Pretty Gemma is the last survivor of the three, as is proper.