I have compiled a list of Compliance reviews with excerpts below. There are more reviews out there so be sure to check them out and go watch Compliance in select theatres!
But on an intimate level these ideas can still prove shocking or unacceptable, as they do in “Compliance,” a nail-biting thriller from indie writer-director Craig Zobel that has been dividing, energizing and alienating audiences since its Sundance premiere earlier this year.
On one level “Compliance” dramatizes a Milgram-like scenario, but more importantly it acts out a psychological experiment of its own, right there in the theater.
The story inevitably goes down a darker, downward spiral. Without knowing the real events, it would be hard to take it seriously. There are a few moments when the caller makes requests that are blatantly wacky. Sure, you probably would assume you would act differently in that situation. But, Zobel is calling attention to those who act with unwavering respect to authority.
If someone would have told me that a movie which centers on a prank call that leads to sexual abuse could be thrilling, I would be first in line to call bullshit. However, Zobel has delivered a tale that is truly unique and will surely lead to several post-film conversations.
Compliance may be a one-trick story, but this is a film that you have to watch – just to appreciate the solid acting performances and Zobel’s plain, pragmatic direction.
Compliance’s underlying humanism and political conscience lift it beyond being a macho endurance test.
An uncomfortable, fascinating film about the corruptive power of suggestion, Compliance is set within the unlikely cinematographic confines of a fast-food joint — and will make you pause for thought the next time you ask for extra pickles with your burger. Inspired by a true story, it caused a minor uproar when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year.
Beyond that, Zobel has created a tale that will leave audiences angry if not downright nauseated by journey’s end. His message — that if we aren’t prepared to question authority, we risk losing our dignity as human beings — could not be more timely.
Then she receives a fateful phone call. It is the police, she is told, and they have received a complaint about one of her cashiers stealing money from a woman’s purse. Becky (Dreama Walker, equally great) is summoned into her office, but swears she didn’t do anything wrong.
The police have been following Becky as part of a larger investigation, Sandra is informed, and “Officer Daniels” (Pat Healy) has her manager on the other line. He also speaks to Becky, pushing her to “just be straight with me,” despite her protests. He asks Sandra to go through Becky’s pockets, then to search her purse.
Zobel does an impressive job of capturing the tension of the situation. Filmed in close range, with lots of reaction shots, the scene becomes a three-way tug of war, with the voice on the other end of the line pulling the most weight.
Compliance (Craig Zobel) is a tightly wound thriller that explores the banality of evil – complete with a drive-thru. Inspired by true events, the film is set in a fast food restaurant that becomes a panopticon-like prison when a mystery caller claiming to be a cop gets the manager (Ann Dowd) to detain Becky (Dreama Walker), a young female employee. The film soon takes us into the dark corners of the psyche, raising questions of obedience and free will. It’s genius is its focus on the crime rather than the investigation, forcing us to sit through (and become implicated in) Becky’s detention and eventual sexual assault. While the conclusion feels rushed, failing to delve into a deeper critique of contemporary American society, Walker and Dowd’s performances ground the film in a complex moral ambiguity that’s wisely left unresolved.
With a slow, relentless buildup focused on sexual humiliation, Compliance intensifies the “requests” put on Sandra, and eventually other employees, to behave immorally in the name of cooperation. And the viewer too is complicit in the exploitation, awash in mixed emotions of titillation, shame, and outrage as we’re invited to ogle a pretty young woman who is powerless and (literally) naked for much of the ordeal. (Dowd and Walker are terrific.) Zobel shoots his queasy little psych test with I’m-just-the-messenger documentary neutrality, challenging as he goes: Do you want to look away now? How about now? Will you walk out?