Brisk, brutal and effective – that describes the shocker opening of “The Disappearance of Alice Creed.” Two men fortify a nondescript British apartment so it can serve as a prison, and then kidnap a woman and tie her to a bed. Before there’s even time to react, we’re plunged into a very nasty situation – but not a simple one.
The brilliance of J Blakeson’s debut lies in how it parses out information and ratchets up the stakes with every scene. Who are these two men? Why have they kidnapped Alice? What is their relationship to each other, and to her? Each leap to the next answer reveals new pieces of the puzzle but complicates the overall picture. And even when the players are known, there are still new surprises in store.
The main surprise – relief, really – is that this is not the latest example of torture porn disguised as entertainment. Working from his own carefully honed script, Blakeson is after something rarer: a thriller that’s both frightening and deeply satisfying. At the heart of its twists and jolts is an understanding of how real people act in desperate situations. Vic (Eddie Marsan) is hard and remorseless, but his dominance over the younger Danny (Martin Compston) turns out to be shaky. And although Alice (Gemma Arterton) is terrorized by the plight she wakes up to, her feral intelligence takes over and shifts the balance of power again. [Synopsis provided by TIFF]
Two mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara meets lonely Noel, who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Schoolgirl Eleanor befriends Frank and tells him their lethal secret. They were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.
A feel-good, heart-warming story about how music can inspire you. Song for Marion stars Terence Stamp as Arthur, a grumpy pensioner who can’t understand why his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) would want to embarrass herself singing silly songs with her unconventional local choir. But choir director Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) sees something special in the reluctant Arthur and refuses to give up on him. As she coaxes him out of his shell, Arthur realizes that it is never too late to change.
Martin, an ex-Parisian well-heeled hipster passionate about Gustave Flaubert who settled into a Norman village as a baker, sees an English couple moving into a small farm nearby. Not only are the names of the new arrivals Gemma and Charles Bovery, but their behaviour also seems to be inspired by Flaubert’s heroes. [Synopsis courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival]