Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Apr 23rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Folie à Trois

film_AliceCreed1‘Alice Creed’ a gutsy, audacious three-character thriller
There are few things more exciting in moviegoing than finding a truly original film by someone you’ve never heard of before. Think back to the first time you saw Christopher Nolan’s Memento, say, or Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects. Remember that feeling of, “Wow, where did this guy come from?” You may get that same hit of awe, coupled with a gleeful sense of discovery, when watching The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a gutsy, disturbing, scrupulously well-honed little thriller from rookie British auteur J Blakeson.

It’s not that Blakeson’s invigorating debut feature resembles either of these complex predecessors in plot or structure. On the face of it Alice Creed seems to be bare-bones storytelling at its most basic, even simplistic: a three-character drama about a crime, its perpetrators, and their victim. But a world of complications lurk beneath this surface, revealed in ever more subversive and flabbergasting increments as Blakeson spins a tale that’s equal parts noir suspense thriller, psychological drama, and fierce morality play. But fasten your seatbelts; you’re in for a feverish ride.

A reader once wrote me that movie critics should never review more than the first 15 minutes of a film, for fear of spoiling the plot. With Alice Creed, even that would be giving away too much. Suffice it to say that Blakeson sets up his premise without ceremony or preamble in the opening minutes as two men who barely utter a word to each other go about their efficient preparations. We see them stealing a van, soundproofing a bare room in a cinderblock building, buying and building a bed (and bolting it to the floor), fastening industrial locks to the door, laying out the tools of their trade—rope, handcuffs, a revolver.

Clearly, someone is up to no good. But before we even know who’s who or what’s what, the anonymous plotters are dragging a young woman into the flat, bound and gagged, with a bag over her head, squirming and struggling for her life with every breath. Her daddy, it develops, has money, and their plan is to ransom her for a fast $2 million. They tie her down to the bed, take a digital photo of an identifying tattoo on her arm, and send it out in an email from their laptop. And that’s the last time anything expected occurs as Blakeson’s story speeds down a taut and twisty path to its harrowing conclusion.

Blakeson’s cast couldn’t be any better. Foremost is veteran character actor Eddie Marsan. (You may recognize him as Inspector Lestrade from the recent Sherlock Holmes, or the hapless,  tightly-wound driving instructor in Happy-Go-Lucky.) As Vic, the elder of the kidnappers, Marsan conveys a man of volatile feelings furiously clamped down beneath a carefully-tooled façade of efficient impassivity. Marsan is scary every second he’s onscreen, yet he imbues his character with faint grace notes of courtliness and melancholy.

The young Scots actor, Martin Compston, plays Vic’s baby-faced sidekick, Danny. Apparently less schooled in crime than his partner, and more conflicted (“Maybe your conscience is eating away at your conviction,” sneers Vic), Danny is the story’s wild card in many ways, none of them predictable. And Compton plays him with just the right mix of naiveté and steely desperation.

As their designated victim, the eponymous Alice, Gemma Arterton gives the movie a sense of free-fall recklessness. Physically outgunned by the men, we see her calculating every second, making sure every spare word and gesture allowed to her count, struggling to piece together any kind of advantage. It’s intriguing that although the film begins from the perspective of the kidnappers, much of the plot evolves from Alice’s viewpoint; we don’t know any more than she does about what’s going on, and most of what little exposition Blakeson provides comes out in terse dialogue that Alice pries out of her captors.

film_disappearance_of_alice_creedBlakeson is masterful at keeping all three of his characters, and the audience, off-balance. (And while hard to watch at times, the film trades more in dread than in actual onscreen violence.) As his characters interact, and their disparate agendas alter the course of everyone’s plans, Blakeson also proves himself a master of visceral storytelling and audacious originality.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED ★★★1/2 (out of four)

With Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston, and Gemma Arterton. Written and directed by J Blakeson. An Anchor Bay Films release. Rated R. 100 minutes.
Watch film trailer
>>>

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management