COMPLIANCE is based off of a true story of a prank caller calling fast food restaurants claiming to be an officer of the law and instructs a manager to interrogate, search, and physically abuse a worker who had allegedly stole something. This happened over 70 times in 30 states. If you don’t believe me you can read about it here.
The plot of the film consists of following the workers of a fast food restaurant called ChickWich in a small Ohio town on a normal day. The manager, Sandra, gives instructions to disinterested employees. One of those workers, the cute 19-year old Becky, is late again. Everything is as mundane and routine as usual until Sandra receives a phone call from a caller claiming to be a police officer. He asks her if he will question Becky about a supposedly stealing from a customer earlier that day. Becky doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Slowly things begin to unravel as the supposed officer asks Sandra to perform a number of tasks for him, each one slightly more evasive and humiliating for Becky.
During its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival there were multiple walkouts and a heated Q & A that followed the film. That type of strong reaction is a testament to how powerful and affecting a film director Craig Zobel, who also made the underrated GREAT WORLD OF SOUND, has crafted. Since its premiere COMPLIANCE has been hailed by critics and festival audiences. While it tells a very harrowing story, made all the more disturbing by its real-life roots, the film is a gripping thriller and a very adept and intelligent statement about the psychological power of authority and human tendency to cave into it. You can see the film everybody was talking about at Sundance starting this Friday at South Lamar. (R.J. LaForce)
Here’s what top critics are saying about COMPLIANCE:
"With a slow, relentless buildup focused on sexual humiliation, Compliance intensifies the 'requests' 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...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?" -Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
“'Compliance' is about something serious—our all too human habit of obedience when we are faced with authority. The movie is driven by an urgent moral inquiry...The actors...display a perfect balance of casualness and intensity. For this fable to work at all, you have to believe everything in it. I didn’t detect a false note." David Denby, The New Yorker