Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Jul 04th
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

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food