Actress Gemma Arterton first splashed on to the scene as a "Bond Girl" playing Strawberry Fields in "Quantum Of Solace" but since then her career has really taken off in a series of high profile films including "Clash Of The Titans" and "Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time." The actress now has a chance to show audiences that she is more than just a pretty face with her brave and sophisticated role in the new British thriller "The Disappearance Of Alice Creed." The actress gives a very daring performance as a kidnap victim and is able to maneuver around the films twists extremely well so that you never see anything coming. There are really only three actors in the entire film including Arterton and her co-stars, Martin Compston ("Doomsday") and Eddie Marsan ("Sherlock Holmes"), who are both riveting as her kidnappers.
The film has many twists but never seems to feel like it is twisting just for the sake of doing so. Every surprise serves the story well and makes sense in the end. The film was written and directed by J Blakeson and he does a remarkable job of balancing the films dramatic high notes along with its shocking crescendos. There are only a handful of films who's twists and turns serve the move well, "The Usual Suspects" or "Fight Club," perhaps but its not a long list and this film pulls it off exceedingly well. Another thing I liked about the picture is that it didn't go out of its way to explain things to you, which really forces the viewer to pay attention and follow the action to figure out what's going on. Blakeson makes you work for it but if you go along for the ride, the director will not let you down and instead delivers a disturbing and shocking motion picture experience.
The film begins by introducing us to Vic (Marsan) and Danny (Compston) while they are preparing for the kidnapping. At first we do not know exactly what they are doing but we see them lining a truck with plastic and preparing a room. Next, we watch in horror as they kidnap Alice Creed (Aterton). They throw a bag over her head and drag her kicking and screaming to their hideout, which has been prepared for her arrival. The two would-be kidnappers tie Alice to a bed, strip her, dress her and feed her while they explain that as long as she behaves, she will not be harmed. Vic and Danny are planning to hold her ransom so they can extort money from her rich father. As the film goes on we find out more about all three characters including that Vic and Danny are former prison roommates and have planned this kidnapping to perfection. I don't want to give too much else away about the film but it's safe to say that all three characters are hiding secrets from each other and alliances are made and broken several times. But Alice is determined to survive and will do anything she has to in order to survive.
I found the film to be quite compelling. It's a little frustrating to write about since I don't want to give anything away as I think you will enjoy the film more the less that you know about it. That being said, there are several reveals that I never saw coming. We soon find out that Alice had a prior relationship with one of the kidnappers and this complicates matters severally as you can imagine. There is also a huge secret concerning Vic and Danny's friendship, easily the film's biggest surprise and its best payoff. The filmmakers handled that very well, as it is easy to see how something like that could quickly become cliché. Overall the film flows quite well and keeps you in suspense for practically the entire time. Adding to the film's great script and excellent direction is a glorious score that is both dark and moody but at the same time sets just the right tone and feel for the film.
But it is the performances of the actors that really make the film work and shine so much. Aterton has been giving great performances for a few years now and many would say that she was the best thing about "Solace Of Quantum" but in this film she really has the opportunity to show her range as an actress and it is very impressive. She is able to not only play scared and vulnerable quite well but also could turn on a dime and play conniving, brave or vicious if she had to. It is also a very brave performance for her in the fact that not only does she have some shocking violent scenes to do but she also has some graphic sexual scenes to perform and handled them with elegance and grace. Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston have been popping up more and more lately in American films and are usually bring a breath of fresh air to a project when they do. They are both at the top of their game in this film and not only play the violence and rage well but are truly amazing in the emotional and tender scenes that they are asked to perform. In the end, "The Disappearance Of Alice Creed" is a shocking, daring and fascinating film that will leave you guessing until the very last reel.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed is out September 12, 2009.