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The Disappearance of Alice Creed

Year: 2009
Production Co: CinemaNX
Director: J Blakeson
Writer: J Blakeson
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, Eddie Marsan

Even if she'd been surrounded by a cast of dozens of others Gemma Arterton would still have been the star. Even though every actor who's ever recorded a DVD commentary craps on about trusting the director and costars so implicitly you can see it in lurid detail here. In the most uncomfortable scene (for the character of Alice and us both) she's handcuffed to a bed after being kidnapped and stripped naked, crying and pleading the whole time at the thought of whatever horrible fate awaits her.

Thankfully Danny (Compston) and Vic (Marsan) have a very strict plan to adhere to and they proceed to dress her in other clothes that won't give away anything about her location or the day she was taken.

We've already been exposed to their workmanlike menace as they prepare an indistinct flat for the job of snatching Alice and holding her captive. The film starts with a long, wordless scene of them blocking up the windows, removing all the non-essential furniture and preparing the bed and van that will be Alice's prison.

It's as dispassionate as watching two office clerks file papers, but it's extremely tense – we know they're up to something horrible even leaving aside the title (and the trailer if you've seen it).

They leave Alice blindfolded, gagged and in the dark for hours at a time, checking on her only too feed her and let her use a bucket for a toilet. It's a slow film with a lot of secrets that takes its time revealing them. As one twist after another stacks up, the stakes of the kidnapping and the ransom the two men hope for are sent through the roof.

To reveal any of the details of the story as they emerge would be to spoil too many other aspects. Suffice it to say there's much more to learn about all three characters.

It's tense, slick and at times scary, especially thanks to the menacing Marsan, who has the market cornered in Dr Crippen-style quiet psychopaths at the moment. With nothing to rely on but the performances it's all on the trio's shoulders, and Arterton is so nakedly on display (in more ways than one) she's simply incredible.

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