A nastily well-planned kidnapping for ransom hits quite a few hiccups.

A nastily well-planned kidnapping for ransom hits quite a few hiccups in writer-helmer J Blakeson’s debut feature, “The Disappearance of Alice Creed.” Crisp handling, some clever twists and a welcome streak of dry humor hold attention throughout this indie Brit thriller, though given that it’s a three-hander mostly played out in a couple of rooms, its commercial prospects are likely to skew smallscreen.

After meticulous preparations, Vic (Eddie Marsan, “Vera Drake” and “Happy-Go-Lucky”) and Danny (“Sweet Sixteen’s” Martin Compston) grab Alice (Gemma Arterton, “St. Trinian’s”) off the street, hiding her in a well-fortified apartment in an abandoned building. They inform her rich father she’ll be returned safely for E2 million. The victim’s terror, and tensions between the two men — Vic a paranoid bully, Danny his younger, resentful subordinate — dominate the early stages. But the game shifts once one surprising secret connection between two protags is revealed; another soon follows. Multiple betrayals and reversals of fortune ensue. Perfs are good, packaging tersely efficient, though the widescreen format seems somewhat wasted on a chamber piece primarily destined for tube play. Smart deployment of low-budget resources should get Blakeson more bigscreen work posthaste.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

U.K.

Production

A CinemaNX and Isle of Man Film presentation of a CinemaNX production. (International sales: CinemaNX, London.) Produced by Adrian Sturges. Executive producers, Steve Christian, Marc Samuelson. Co-producer, Andrew Fingret. Directed, written by J Blakeson.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Philipp Blaubach; editor, Mark Eckersley; music, Marc Canham; production designer, Ricky Eyres. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 13, 2009. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, Eddie Marsan.

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