Written by Culture Correspondent Justin Bog
San Juan Islands, Washington, USA
Compliance is a psychological study of perversion carried out by gullible people who are directed by someone acting as an authority figure. The movie may exaggerate some of the true cases the film is based on–one can hope. The film begins with a shortage at a fast food chicken restaurant. How will they cope during the busy rush hour? There’s very little bacon or pickles left, a very mundane problem, but this calamity brings tension into the film early on. The manager, played by a terrific Ann Dowd, always wants to do the right thing, and she’s saddled in the middle between what upper management wants, and what is available to her through the underlings who do her bidding.
The film is very good at setting the structure of the business operation and making the characters, and their separate motivations, colorful. The manager will always remain a separate force in the store; she cannot be a true friend to her coworkers because she is their boss, but that doesn’t stop her from yearning to be included as such. When Officer Daniels (played by Pat Healy) calls, all of the characters are already in a stressful state of mind, and easy for Officer Daniels to manipulate.
Dreama Walker, an actress in the sitcom Don’t Trust the B—- From Apartment 23, is natural enough to make anyone believe the choices she makes, and they are heartbreaking. One of the reasons I am singling Compliance out for viewing, even though watching it is psychologically disturbing due to its factual relevance, is the acting. The prank portrayed in Compliance has happened. 20/20 covered the story. The players are believable as real people; the film walks that documentary line, showing the ugly side of life. While there is artistry in the direction, there is also no exploitation; how the camera dwells on the garbage on the ground outside the fast food restaurant mirrors the ugliness happening within–how we try to keep horrible acts hidden away. is a director to watch.
Plot Summary: At a fast food restaurant, the manager, Sandra, is having a bad day. Suddenly, she gets a phone call from a man claiming to be a police officer who has a complaint that one of her young female employees has stolen from a customer. At the orders of this authoritative sounding stranger, Sandra takes the apparent accused, Becky, to a back room to search her before she is picked up. Once there, the phone scammer manipulates the gullible personnel into participating in Becky’s sexual humiliation that grows more twisted with every new sucker on the phone. Only when one final person has the conscience to revolt do they realize the crime they were tricked into, which the real police are hard pressed to solve. This plot summary was written by Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)