Compliance (Craig Zobel, 2012) 2/4
Few films can create a plot that is so ridiculous and uncomfortable, that people walk out of the screening. Creating walkouts and vocal criticism at this years Sundance Film Festival, Compliance sparks interest in the “based on true events” category.
On a normal day in suburban America, Becky goes to work at her local ChickWich fast food restaurant. The day begins stressful as the freezer was left open the night before, leaving thousands of dollars of food destroyed. As the busy day begins, Sandra, the general manager, deals with all the chaos. Halfway into the day, Sandra receives a call from the police telling her that Becky has stolen money out of a customer’s purse. As Sandra brings Becky into the back for questioning, the man on the phone begins demanding strange and inhumane actions for conducting a search. The man insists that Sandra make Becky strip off her clothes and stand there naked while she “inspects” her. After confiscating her clothes and placing them in her car to be picked-up, Becky is forced to stay in the back room while only wearing an apron.
As anyone can guess, the man that is on the other side of the telephone throughout the film is in fact, not a police officer. Being uneducated, gullible individuals, most workers in the fast food joint follow everything the man says to do. I suppose anyone would do anything a strange man on the phone says if he continuously asks to be referred to as Officer; actually no, I don’t think any normal thinking person would do that. Luckily there is a character in the film that is smart and begins to question the actions. As the film continues, the man on the phone insists that he is caught up in a search at Becky’s home and needs Sandra to hold Becky in the back office until he can arrive. As the restaurant gets more and more busy, Sandra begins having random employees and eventually her soon to be fiancé watch over Becky. Each one of the “watchers” talks to the man on the phone during their stay in the back-office as he pursues to have them too search Becky.
The film is established extremely well creating a dark fast food atmosphere with escalading hostility between the two main characters. Tight shots and very subtle camera movement makes the room feel just the right amount of claustrophobic. On a slightly more depressing note, what made the film so difficult to watch was the idiotic characters. While they were all acted pretty well, I cannot imagine meeting someone so ridiculously stupid. I really liked the intense feeling throughout the film and the random fast food montages (I just love a good montage), but the film was too shadowed by its overly psychosexual plotline and uneducated American characters.