One busy Friday night a fast food restaurant’s manager receives a phone call from the police alleging that one of her staff members has stolen from a customer. The caller convinces the manager to detain and search the employee. As the evening moves on more people are brought in to watch over the supposed thief and the (also supposed) police officer demands more and more from the law-abiding citizens as they search for the stolen money. Things do not go well for the suspected thief or anyone involved.
At first I found Compliance a bit far fetched and the acts people were willing to commit when asked to by an anonymous authority figure seemed ludicrous. Amazingly this is based on over 70 true stories. Knowing that the events I saw unfolding on-screen actually happened makes the film’s plot even more horrific and an even more uncomfortable watch.
The night portrayed in Compliance may contain an intriguing series of events but it didn’t exactly make for enthralling viewing. For the most part we are watching one side of a lengthy phone call and then seeing easily duped individuals abuse an innocent young woman to gradually more extreme degrees. The result is a little repetitive, quite unsettling, and displeasingly voyeuristic. I think the cases that inspired Compliance are fascinating and say a lot about human nature but there must be a different way of covering the same material. Writer/director Craig Zobel has simply given us the events without having much to say about them or showing us the full context or consequences.
Performances are fantastic throughout but the film surrounding them lacks depth and cinematic vitality. Not one I’d recommend you rush out and see.
Compliance on the 18th, 19th and, 20th October and some tickets are still on sale.