There’s a line in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy: “Only an idiot kidnaps.” Here we have two such idiots, in 2009 British thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed – currently available on iPlayer.
The film’s superb wordless opening sees Vic and Danny (Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston) meticulously prepare to kidnap the daughter of a millionaire, Alice (Gemma Arterton) – breaking only for some tea and toast.
If only they remained silent for the rest of the film, we’d be saved some quite clunky dialogue – “Give me… the spoon.” J Blakeson seems a better director than he is a writer, keeping the tension as taut as kidnapper’s rope.
Though the plot starts out dealing with the fascinatingly mundane logistics of kidnapping, it stretches plausibility with each twist. But it keeps stretching our nerves at the same time – constantly gripping, this is a tightly plotted three-hander.
A shifting power dynamic between the three characters keeps the film compelling. Marsan is typically terrifying as Vic, Arterton convincing as Alice and Compston strong as Danny – not since Macbeth has a Scotsman had such a complicated life.
Mostly set in one location, The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a simple-but-effective exercise in economy. Catch it before it disappears… from iPlayer.