DVD Review: Compliance

During the first moments of Compliance, the words "Inspired By True Events" appear on screen. Probably because no one would ever believe a screenwriter could make up characters so despicable. But knowing this in advance doesn't help.

The film takes place on a busy Friday night at a fast food restaurant. Tensions run high as the manager, Sandra (Ann Dowd), scrambles around, short-staffed and under-stocked on inventory, when she receives a call from a man identifying himself as a police officer. The caller (Pat Healy) informs her he has a customer of the restaurant at the police station, claiming one of the cashiers took money from the customer's purse. After a vague description, Sandra assumes it must be young Becky (Dreama Walker). Sandra remains on the phone with the caller who smoothly convinces her she must interrogate Becky and then strip search her to find the missing money, which is only the beginning for the caller's demands and the irreversible damage inflicted on all involved.

Compliance is certainly a good film. Writer/Director Craig Zobel tells a tough story, but tells it well. He immediately hooks the audience with a mystery and reveals the truth early, but by then the film demands you watch all the events play, no matter how dirty you feel while doing so. Despite all this, it's difficult not to feel outraged at the stupidity of the characters, but even angrier at the fact that we're told on the front end that this really happened, and these people, or some version of them, exists within our world. Therefore I found myself quite distracted as I mentally yelled at ALL of them while watching them become worse as the events unfolded.

The hardest part to accept about Compliance isn't just that it's based on a true story, but it really shines an ugly light on our society, leaving lots of room for discussion on the characters and their actions. If you can get through it the film in the first place.


  1. At my theatre there were at least 4 walk outs. It's a tough one to sit through but very important. Great review

    1. Oh wow. I'm not one to walk out of a theater, but I could see where some couldn't handle this. Though very little is shown, it certainly implies enough with an atmosphere of complete discomfort.


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