It’s always nice to be surprised. Maybe I should rephrase that: it’s always nice to be surprised by a film. These days there’s an awful lot of tired generic crap out there. Cinema with no soul, no bite, no passion.
Every now and then you get low budget little movies that pop up and blow you away. You get a body-blow of refreshment and inspiration when someone gets it so very right and it appears with no fanfare at all.
And that’s the case with The Disappearance of Alice Creed. It’s got some positive press in the UK (perhaps gaining extra attention because of a certain rising British star’s nudity, more on that later) but it’s not been trumpeted as a “must see”. But it is: if you like your films intelligent and well made this is definitely a must see.
It’s kind of a dark caper movie. There are twists and turns and you’re never really sure how it’s going to end up. It’s impossible to discuss at any length without giving something away, but it’s enough to say that it’s satisfying in its serpentine shenanigans.
The three cast members - for that’s all there is - are each brilliant in their own way. They’re playing well developed, believable characters. Special praise goes to Gemma Arterton for being something of a revelation after Bond, Clash of the Titans, and Prince of Persia. It’s evident that she can actually act, can pull off pathos when required, and can manage to avoid becoming an irritation over the film’s duration. Yes, there’s nudity, but it’s not for titillation. It actually happens in one of the films most uncomfortable moments, and in classic “I’ll get my kit off if the script is right” fashion, it fits perfectly with the plot and I can see why Arterton agreed to do it.
Deserving of even more praise than Arterton is writer director J Blakeson (he’s on Twitter folks). While there’s no real flashy direction beyond the excellent opening sequence - you could almost pull the whole thing off on stage if you set things up right - it’s all handled confidently and effectively. The writing is spot on, and the plot reminded me of classic caper movies like Deathtrap or Sleuth but dragged into the 21st century and given a suitable layer of grit. There are twists, ladies and gentlemen, and while you might be able to guess where things are going, you won’t know for sure until you get there.
You should see it. There’s a good chance Alice Creed has disappeared from British cinemas by now (see what I did there?) but there should be a dvd release soon; Blakeson recorded his DVD commentary the other day. I urge you to go and pick it up when it comes out.