Chandler, Arizona, United States

There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .

Review of Compliance

Saturday, April 05, 2014

this entry brought to you by ok go, "here it goes again"

Around 2006 I heard about it. A police officer called a McDonald's and asked for the manager, telling her that the girl at the cash register had committed a crime and needed to be held in the office until he could get there to make the arrest. Over the next five to six hours, he convinced the manager and several employees to hold her against her will, strip search her, spank and humiliate her, and, eventually, rape her, all while on the other side of a phone. As horrible and implausible as all this sounded, the real kicker was that this happened five or six other times in the area.

Compliance is an examination of the event, fictionalized in that the security tape of the real-life situation isn't available to the public so it has to guess how these people talked themselves into these acts. It needed to frame the prankster who, of course, was no police officer at all, as someone who always had a response to the questions that would naturally arise-- why someone other than an officer of the law would need to strip search someone, why it was necessary to spank her-- to convince them to comply. Otherwise the film makes no leaps to make it worse than it really happened, or exaggerate anything. It's a gut wrenching thriller, one that left me with my heart in my throat from the moment the young woman is taken into the office by the manager (played by an actress named Ann Dowd, whose Middle American earthiness evokes much sympathy even as she agrees to do things that, on their face, make no sense), one whose impending dread is palpable, without needing to have a trail of bodies or an increasingly insane killer to make the story nightmarishly stick with you. The film is just a girl, wide eyed and unbelieving, trapped by uncomfortable coworkers in a room, as the man on the other side of a phone demands more and more degrading acts to be done on her. Even knowing the story beforehand, as the characters questioned the insanity of the situation yet still continued, Compliance still elicited verbal, guttural denials from me, "No, please don't do that".

The reaction of the audience, even after seeing the "based on true events" disclaimer at the film's opening, might be to scoff and call these people gullible idiots, just as the police at the end of the movie do, and just as I did when I was hearing the story several years ago. But the events of Compliance, unfolded, through different variations, dozens of times-- over 70, the movie concludes, although it does not specify if all of these were attributed to the one person the movie is based on. The most devastating aspect about the film is that nothing saying you wouldn't do the exact same thing in the exact same circumstances. Film as a whole is supposed to show a mirror to its audience, and make us question how we deal with situations, and Compliance is this personified. You can judge any of the people in the movie, but what if it turns out you'd be no different?

with love from CRS @ 9:31 AM 


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