Sunday, 2 May 2010
REVIEW: The Disappearance Of Alice Creed
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed is the kind of lo-fi, high concept thriller that great British directors always seem to start their career with. And while this doesn't bear the calculated smarts of Following or the stylish (but empty) charm of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, there's a lot to like here. The visuals are strong, the acting is engaging and the twists keep coming. Its patchy, and there are moments that clunk, but all in all a promising calling card for the Director credited as J Blakeson.
The set-up is a simple one. There are few locations and only three characters, two kidnappers and their hostage, and you know thriller hijinks ensues. I think its fair to say that the writing isn't exactly the film's strong suit, with a few too many incredulous situations that stretch a viewer's compliance to breaking point. Perhaps the long view works, but there are some bumps in the road to get there and even only at 100 minutes it felt stretched out. But, there was enough elsewhere to like in this movie to forgive its structural dilemma's and fairly obvious stalling tactics. The acting is good, and while Gemma Arterton will get most of the raves as the titular kidnap victim, I found Eddie Marsan's work to be far more interesting.
Sure Arterton is good, and goes through some harrowing shit convincingly, and that is to be praised. But to use a particularly obscure comparison, I'd liken it to a Mighty Heart, in which everyone rushed to praise Ms Jolie for all the primal screaming and stuff, but coming out of that movie I had no idea who that woman was, and only knew her as a fairly generic representation of suffering. Whilst Irfan Khan' detective was a much more layered character, who I found much more compelling. Its kind of the same thing here, in which Arterton's character is only the atrocities commited against her, and both Blakeson and Arterton don't really break beyond that. Marsan meanwhile, does something much more interesting, really creating a character and lending the film a humanity that perhaps wasn't there on the page. Switching between dark ruthlessness and real human being convincingly, its a great performance and the kind of thing this film needed to make it more then the some of its parts. Martin Compston does less well as Marsan's laddish sidekick, and is frequently the weakest thing about the film, in part due to the writing as his character is idiotic beyond belief but also because Compston doesn't really bring much to it.
The film is an effective enough thriller, a bit too slow in places and could have been twenty minutes shorter to be honest, but for everything that didn't work there was something else that did, and the film acts as a great addition to the CV of Arterton and further evidence of how Eddie Marsan is awesome. And it presents the possibility of another strong British director in Blakeson. Yet again this guy does have a scripting credit on The Descent Part 2, so I'll curb my enthusiasm for now.