Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
August 30, 2012
*** (out of four)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's probably not standard procedure at fast food restaurants to conduct a strip search of an employee just because a police officer calls and demands it. Especially when the man on the phone asks questions about the kind of underwear the young cashier is wearing before insisting she take it off.
That's what happens in the back room at Chickwich, as flustered manager Sandra (Ann Dowd) works to heed the directions of a man identifying himself as Officer Daniels (Pat Healy of “The Innkeepers”). He calls and says he has a customer who claims Becky (Dreama Walker of “Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23”) stole money from her purse. Becky denies this. Sandra believes her, but she's also focused on the restaurant's bacon shortage and possible upcoming health inspection. She has less than 100 percent of her focus on the situation unfolding in the back, which only grows more shocking and uncomfortable as Sandra finds others to watch Becky, and Daniels convinces them to insist Becky again remove anything she's wearing.
Written and directed by Craig Zobel (“Great World of Sound”), “Compliance” seems almost impossible to believe, yet notes at the beginning and end of the film speak to the fact that not only did something like this happen, but it happened a lot. (Do a search and prepare to be stunned.) The movie doesn't ask why people are so gullible or uncover the full story of what really took place. Instead it considers everyone's implied relationship with authority figures. Slowly and disturbingly, “Compliance” shows good intentions gone bad (and bad intentions gone horrible), with characters persuaded to bite off inch by inch until an entire yard is gone.
The question remains, certainly, how anyone could be so foolish. That's for us to wonder, along with those real people surely still struggling with it themselves.
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