Compliance (2012) - Craig Zobel
Based on true events, Compliance is the story of Sandra, a middle-aged manager of a fast-food restaurant, and Becky, a teenaged counter girl, who works under Sandra. On one particularly stressful day, a police officer calls, accusing Becky of stealing money from a customer's purse. Sandra who is rightfully overwhelmed by her responsibilities, complies with the officer's orders in detaining and strip-searching Becky. Without going into too much detail, things escalate to the point where legality and morality become blurred. Compliance is a film that is hard to review, simply because of the nature of its content. The story itself is an incredibly fascinating endeavor, but ultimately the film comes off more as simply public service announcement than a film exploring rich and interesting themes. There is no question that this is a tense and uneasy experience, as we see things escalate to the point that one can't help but question how this type of thing is possible, or rather how much of this story is exaggerated for cheap manipulative purposes. Early on, some of the dialogue comes off stilted and unnatural and I really had some issue with the only black character in the film being a walking stereotype. My main problem with Compliance is that the filmmakers really didn't have anything to say, essentially pointing at the stupidity of the people allowing something like this to happen; sure this sounds incredibly insensitive, but it sure seems that this was the only point the filmmakers wanted to make. Compliance is the type of film that is sure to be talked about and liked by many, but I couldn't help but wonder how great a film like this could have been in more capable hands.
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