COMPLIANCE (2012, Craig Zobel): 9/10
In a theater full of maybe 50 people at most, I counted 9 walkouts (tried not to notice, but I couldn’t help but be distracted by the disgusted, annoyed patrons expressing their displeasure at the greatness on screen). People just can’t take this shit.
Granted, it’s a very uncomfortable movie. I probably squirmed in my chair more during this film than anything I’ve seen recently, and that includes MARTYRS. It’s easy to think that one would be reaching to say this film is making a broader political statement, but that’s all I could think about. With relentless focus on the fast-food culture that’s distinctly American, the film goes to great lengths to link its small-scale story of a perverted prank caller doing intense emotional damage to a larger notion that those with authority and power use fear and threats of discipline to force gullible worker-bees into willfully behaving like lemmings. And then it presents the question of to what extent some people are victims and/or perps themselves. A lot of talk about corporate offices, managers, supervisors, etc… there’s a lot going on here.
But none of it would mean anything if I wasn’t along for the disturbing ride caused by Zobel’s masterful control of camera, editing, and direction of the performances. This is just solid filmmaking first and foremost, but the provocative look at how our psychological makeup impacts larger social constructs is what makes me want to revisit — or should I say endure — it again.