July 24

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!! DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW PLOT DETAILS AND ENDING!!

This is just going to be a short post about a British film I saw recently in Lille, France called “The Disappearance of Alice Creed”. (“La Disparition d’Alice Creed” – French title.) Due to my crap French my boyfriend and I went to Le Majestic where the films are in the original version of English with French subtitles. This is of course PERFECT for me whilst I improve my French, but I do find it weird to sit in France, in a cinema in Lille, with other French and watch a movie in English with French subtitles!

First of all though, I must say that I LOVE this cinema! You buy your tickets right by the entrance and then go up a flight of stairs to the screens. Here there is a little sitting area at the top which I thought was lovely, as in the cinema where I live the closest thing you have to a seat other than the ones you sit on to watch the movie is a nasty metal bench which hurts your arse. AND they place these benches right next to the fucking doors so in the winter you can nicely freeze to death.

But back to Le Majestic! The room that we were in was really small with low seats and the music that was playing before the film felt kind of old. And despite my unappealing description, the rooms really have a charm about them. I would recommend this cinema to anyone because it’s so quaint and charming I couldn’t help but fall in love with it!

Anyway, onto the movie. The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a British thriller, directed by J Blakeson which, I must admit, I fucking loved! With just 3 actors and 1 main location the film is a dangerous prospect. This being because in such a confined space with such a small cast the success or the failure of the movie depends solely on the actors: on their interactions with each other, their changes in their character, their revealing of lies, concealing of truths, the hiding of emotions to one but opening them all to another e.t.c

In this movie, the casting was perfect. Gemma Aterton, from “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” stars as Alice Creed, a young girl with a wealthy father. Eddie Marson from “Happy-Go-Lucky” stars as Vic, the tough, serious “mastermind” of the “plan”, and Martin Compston from “Sweet Sixteen” stars as nervous and shifty Danny. (Vic and Danny being 2 ex-convicts intent on causing more trouble.) However, all is not as it seems as the line between the prey and the predator become blurred and forever changing. Even in the last 5 minutes of the film there is no clear-cut winner and despite all the shocking revelations thrown at you during those 100 minutes we are still none the wiser about who any of these people really are. I have never watched a movie before where I can learn so much about the characters and at the same time know absolutely nothing about them.

The beginning of the movie is exciting! There is absolutely no speech. We are just watching the preparation involved into what is revealed to be a kidnapping. A 1 bedroom apartment is converted into some kind of prison, with 4 or more locks on both the front door and bedroom door, ugly wall paper fitted and with basic furniture. And the kidnapping itself is never fully revealed to us as we see both Danny and Vic leave their van wearing balaclavas and in the next shot see them bundle a screaming girl into the back of the van.

Everything moves so fast at this moment, as you would expect any terrifying moment to. Back in the apartment Alice is tied to the bed and stripped in a rough, brutal manner. At this point, the reason for the kidnapping is unknown and the possibility of some torture-porn/rape scene becomes a certainty…. or so I thought. Because at this point I was regretting coming to see this movie. I don’t know if it is just me, or if it is the same for other girls out there, but one of the things I can’t bear to watch are rape scenes. So much so that when my ex-boyfriend made me watch” Derailed” I was so upset at the rape scene that I demanded that we turn the movie off and he had to explain to me without giving away the plot that it wasn’t actually a rape.

Anyway, the tension at this point of the movie is awful as you have no idea what they want and if they will take advantage of her vulnerability. However, this is where the movie takes a turn in the opposite direction and we see them dress her in different clothes and……. leave the room?? Yes, just leave the room! At this point I was thinking “Thank fuck for that!” and “hold on then… what the hell is going on?”

Alice Creed has in fact been kidnapped because of her rich father, as Vic and Danny see her only as a tool to make money. They plan to film her crying and begging her dad to send the money with photos of her naked and gagged. They don’t want to kill her but just keep her until the money is ready to collect. She is forced to piss in a plastic container and expected to shit in a bucket under the watchful eye of Danny, so in turn suffering constant humiliation.

As Alice fights to secure her freedom Danny reveals himself to be her lover. The plan is his idea: to get the money and run off with Alice so they can have a new life together. As you can imagine, she doesn’t see the light in the situation as she spends the hours gagged, tied up and humiliated! If that wasn’t a big enough revelation, it’s not long after when Danny and Vic are discussing the details of the plan as it evolves (Vic is often leaving to arrange drop-off points for the money e.t.c) Vic tells Danny that when they get the money they can run off somewhere hot and……. “fuck each other senseless every day!”" My boyfriend, totally not expecting mean-looking Vic to be in fact gay, actually asked me “Did he just say that they would fuck each other?!!” to which I replied, “Er… yeah!” just as shocked as he was!

From this point it seems that Danny is in fact the mastermind of the kidnapping and is really the one with all the power. What his real agenda is, is unclear. Whether he really intends to stay with Vic or leave him to make a life with Alice, both under the impression he loves them, is the big question. And as Danny tries to keep things under control, Alice has other ideas with a second escape attempt which is again unsuccessful.

As Vic becomes suspicious of Danny’s increasingly erratic and secretive behaviour, he eventually learns the truth from Alice after sending Danny away on an errand and threatening her with violence. When Danny returns he does not tell him that he knows about him and Alice, instead telling him that they need to go collect the money at the drop-off point in the woods in the local area. Vic actually uses the situation as a set-up, and when Danny realises there is no money he tries to escape as Vic starts shooting at him. Danny manages to get away, but is seriously injured in the process.

Even now, we are unsure who is going to survive. You wonder whether Danny and Alice are in on something together, or perhaps Alice and Vic are planning something in revenge. Is Alice still trying to survive alone? And what really is Danny’s agenda?

After Vic collects the money, he goes to where Alice has been moved to (supposedly for her father to pick her up) where it seems that he tries to kill her by injection. However Danny arrives, and despite Vic’s best efforts to dissuade him, Danny shoots Vic leaving him to die. As Alice screams for him to set her free, he smiles at her and tells her that she “should have trusted him”, before leaving her chained to the wall, presumably to die whilst he takes all the money.

However, Vic who is still only clinging to life, throws her the keys to set herself free before slowly dying as she struggles to reach the keys and unlock herself. As Alice steps out into freedom and begins walking along the road in the countryside back home, she sees money scattered down the road, and when looking ahead she sees the car that Danny was driving which appears to have crashed into the bank. Danny is slumped dead in the seat having died from the gunshot wound inflicted by Vic in the woods earlier. Alice drags him out, gets in the car and drives off with the money which ends the last scene of the movie.

From what I made of the movie, it is this last scene as Alice drives away which is the disappearance of Alice and not the kidnapping itself. It’s as if we know more than her family would because we know the full story of what happened, but at the very end of the movie we are actually placed at the beginning of the real story and dilemma which gives meaning to the title, which is “where did Alice Creed go?” And us, the audience, are the ones to witness her disappearance. So in turn, even though we may understand the reasons why she disappeared, we actually know nothing about what happened afterwards.

I also felt that the way the issue of “power” was used was really interesting. At the start, you really feel that Vic is in control. He’s calm, serious, and seems to be the one making sure everything goes accordingly. However, it is actually Danny who seems to have the upperhand; having the trust of both Vic and Alice. Of course it is easier to get them both to do what he wants when they both trust him and believe that he is in love with them. Although, both men seem to underestimate Alice who never seems to give up the fight for her freedom and isn’t so easy to forgive them for what they have done to her.

In the end, it appears that Vic dies because he too easily let his feelings get in the way of the situation instead of using his hate for Danny to steal the money and run away with it. His character originally appeared quite flat with his hard exterior, yet the biggest surprise in the film is understanding that he is in fact gay.

The great thing about the character of Danny is that at the end you do not know what his real agenda was in the kidnapping of Alice. My boyfriend seems to believe that he really did want to take the money and run away with Alice, but because she did not trust him and put him in jeopardy with Vic he decided not to save her. I, however felt like he never intended to be with either of them and was just using Vic to help him kidnap Alice before running away with the money. Mainly because he couldn’t really expect her to be happy with what he did, but if you love someone you wouldn’t leave them to die because you kidnapped and humiliated them and they didn’t like it! Also, I think that he only told Alice who he was in the hope it would make her more compliant and easier to manipulate as she would be more trusting if she knew it was her lover and he was doing it for her. However, you never really know what his real intentions were which I feel makes the movie really interesting and give you something to think about.

The interaction between the characters during the film created some incredible tension as the plan begins to unravel and the truth is revealed. However, what truths do we actually know by the end of the movie? The only people you can really believe are Vic and Alice whereas Danny, the one whose reasons behind the kidnapping and his intentions you want to know, remain hidden. Anything he does say you begin to doubt as he is telling more and more lies as the film goes on.

Also, you often feel like you are with certain characters throughout the movie. Sometimes you feel more like you’re seeing things with Alice’s perspective as she fights for her life, whereas other times you seem to be feeling Vic’s insecurities as he starts to become suspicious of Danny. Other times you appear to be living with Danny’s perspective. Especially when he tries to flush a bullet down the toilet which had accidentally been fired during a struggle with Alice. You begin to feel his stress and anxiety as he tries to remove the evidence.

Finally, the location appears to feel claustrophobic for the characters as their lies and emotions begin to spill out throughout the movie. However, you also as the audience find yourself beginning to feel claustrophobic and tense as you are constantly wondering what will happen next. Unlike with other movies, all the drama, tension, and excitement come from the characters interactions as opposed to action or horror scenes. To feel tense during the film was a real testament to the actors talent who really made you wonder and want to know what would happen next, however shocking.

My only negatives about the movie are that because of the one location there is only so much you can do with a movie. For what it was, it was incredible, but compared with other movies of multiple locations, there were clearly going to be limitations on what the plot and action could be. Because of these, the plot was ever so slightly average. However, the twists of the movie and the talent of the acting made it worthwhile. My only other negative about it, and it’s a small one, was the nudity of Gemma Aterton in the movie. Not just once, but twice she was topless in the movie and the second time taking place in a small sex scene. My reasons being just that when you watch the film the nudity seemed irrelevent to the movie. It’s not like in “Terminator” where the sex scene is VERY important as it marks the creation of John Connor. Nor was there any romantic love scene in the film that required a need for it, and in the sex scene in the movie, she only uses the promise of sex as a trap to get free so they do not actually have sex in the end. So again, it didn’t seem needed. I think you might need to see it to understand what I mean, but her showing her breasts just seemed unnecessary to the plot and seemed totally out of place. And I know men will think that I’m just saying this as a girl, but even my boyfriend wasn’t keen on it and found it irrelevent and just stuck in for the purpose of titillation. Also, I can’t help but lose a bit of respect for actresses or actors that “bare-all” in movies. For me, that kind of thing should just be kept for your partner :) But like I said, it’s not a very big criticism compared to the many great attributes of the film.

So aside from that, I thought it was a good movie which I enjoyed!

So I give it: 7.5/10.

Here is the trailer for those interested :)