Thursday, September 13, 2012

Compliance

By Sati. Thursday, September 13, 2012 , , , , , , , ,
Compliance is the scariest movie I've seen in a very long time. It's not a horror film but it has one element that always frightens me - stupidity. It is mind blowing how stupid some people can be. We are supposed to be the most intelligent species on Earth? If there is extraterrestrial life out there and they can see what we do each day they are laughing their asses off. But the thing that makes this movie frightening is that every single bit of it that you see on the screen actually happened.

The story is based on what happened in Mount Washington McDonald's- Louise Ogborn, counter worker, was strip-searched and sexually humiliated for nearly four hours after a caller convinced an assistant manager that he was a police officer investigating the theft of a purse from a customer. Acting on the caller's orders, the manager, Donna Summers, began a strip search of Ogborn, and later called Walter Nix, to whom she was engaged at the time, to come to the restaurant to watch Ogborn. A surveillance video showed Nix spanking Ogborn on her naked buttocks and forcing her to orally sodomize him -- acting, he said, on the orders of the caller.
Compliance changes the names but doesn't change the events - Becky (Dreama Walker), a fast food worker accused of stealing money from a customer. Manager Sandra (Ann Dowd) did not see the theft, and is not likely to believe Becky when she is on the phone with Officer Daniels (Pat Healy), who claims that he has the customer in his office describing Becky perfectly. Daniels asks Sandra to bring her to the back, and assist him over the phone with the search for the missing money since he, nor any other officer, is available to come to the store.

Had it not been based on real events I'd call this movie ridiculous. It's simply hard to believe someone could be this dumb - there were so many times during this movie I couldn't believe my eyes - if someone who says he is a police officer asks you to do a strip search on someone how the hell can you not guess it's a prank? And while I know the people aren't that bright and I could see this happening what follows is more appalling and shocking with every single minute.It helps a little that Dreama Walker's Becky after a certain point seems to be in the state of severe shock. The trouble is that even that doesn't explain some things she does and agrees to.
The film does a very good job at showing the events, never crossing the line of good taste and never crosses over to some sick exploitation flick. In fact, I think it's far more tasteful, elegant and dignified than the stupidity of actual people involved in this whole thing deserves. I kept watching this movie, fascinated and waiting for all of  them - except for the abused girl - to get punished for what they are doing. The girl who was a victim in the situation didn't win my sympathy - I felt for her, but at times her actions were completely bizarre - I watched interview with the victim and she says she didn't run because she was scared to be humiliated - by running naked through the restaurant. So the logic here? She figured out it's better to get raped than run and scream for help? What the hell?

But still, comparing to the manager and her fiance she is all right. The most appalling fact about this whole event is that the manager sued and actually got money. She belongs in jail along with her scumbag of a fiance. It's her stupidity and her desire not to get into trouble that led to the anguish of this young girl and last I checked being an idiot is not a circumstance that instantly makes you innocent in the court of law. All she was convicted of was unlawful imprisonment and than she got money from McDonald's - million dollars to be exact. This is a woman who told under aged girl to strip, left her with her middle aged fiance, let in other coworkers go in and out of the room without being there to see what exactly was going on and let it go on for hours. And she got million dollars for it. What the hell was a matter with that jury?
She was so easy to manipulate and the disturbing thing is that she doesn't seem to grasp reality very well. At one point of the movie she walks in the room and clearly sees that before she entered the room Becky was naked, while her fiance was there doing God knows what. She pretends nothing happened. The interviewer asks her about that in the last scene of the movie and her lawyer cuts in, saying she can't answer that question. She smiles awkwardly and quickly changes the subject, engaging the interviewer in silly chit chat. It is obvious she knew what was going on but figured it will be easier for her to pretend and just go on, as if nothing happened.

The only reason for me feeling slight sympathy for her character was excellent and very nuanced work by Ann Dowd. She was fantastic in her role as frightened woman who at times clearly seemed to be enjoying the situation. Because that is what it must have been - no one is this stupid. We, the people, tend to like having the power over those who are weak, who are in compromising position. We like to use others, manipulate them and we like to take the advantage of them. And that is what she did at times, though there were also moments she showed genuine compassion towards Becky. Of course, none of those compassionate acts can redeem what she did.
Then we have her fiance who I thought was the weak link in the film - he goes from being genuinely surprised by "police officer's" requests to enjoying the situation and taking advantage of Becky. The guy playing him did a great job but I thought we should have seen a little bit more of the progression from reaction A to reaction B. Becky's character really fell apart here too - as I said I think every woman out there would much rather run naked than do what she did. The very disturbing thing is that the real girl said in the interview she followed the instructions because she was told by her parents to listen to her elders. This is just...I can't even comment on that one.

Who was guilty here? The caller obviously. The manager. The fiance. In real life McDonald's representatives were found guilty too - of negligence. Sure they should have informed their workers a bit better how to behave in a situation like this, but the movie clearly shows that some of the workers knew that what was going on was odd and bizarre. Can we really blame the corporation that one of the workers is a moron? Another thing that bothers me is this - yes, the girl was hurt. Yes, she should be compensated. Louise Ogborn got $6.1 million — including $5 million in punitive damage. This is ridiculous. That girl had the opportunity to run and should have known better. She was as stupid as the manager and had the tables been turn who knows if she wouldn't do something dumber than this. There are good honest people who work each day. They will never get $6.1. Ogborn got that for her stupidity and for other's person stupidity. There are so many repulsive and wrong aspects of this event I don't know which one of those is the worst one.
Compliance is a better movie than this story and the people involved in it deserve. Craig Zobel, the writer and director of the movie, took a ridiculous story and turned it into really good movie. the film is gripping, thrilling and very realistic despite what is happening on the screen. the chemistry between actors is fantastic and everyone is doing great with their parts. Add to that a memorable score and subtle and tasteful cinematography and you really have something here.While I don't think it's award worthy it definitely deserves to be seen - if only for being a warning sign.

PS: One thing that I found amusing - critics apparently disliked the fact that the girl in the movie was much more attractive than the real one. They said that the fact she spends so much time in the movie being naked is exploitative and that the film is making it look sexy. So let me get this straight - had the girl been plain it's all right. But the girl is pretty and bam! Exploitation? Give me a fucking break.

Compliance (2012, 90 min)
Plot: It's a busy day at a fast food restaurant when suddenly the manager - Sandra - gets a call from someone claiming to be a police officer who tells her one of the employees - Becky - stole money from a customer. Sandra follows the instructions of the caller, believing in everything he says which leads to humiliation of Becky. Based on true events.
Director:Craig Zobel
Writer: Craig Zobel
Stars: Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker and Pat Healy 


RELATED POSTS:

26 comments:

  1. Ahah, someone's stupidity can be quite scary indeed, that one made me laugh but it's so true! Great review, Sati, it doesn't sound like my cup of tea but I'm intrigued by your positive take on it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really worth watching, well made movie and it's based on the interrractions between characters which is quite rare in films.

      Delete
  2. Good review Sati. This flick is definitely a lot freakier that it actually happened, but there is still a whole bunch of suspense to be had here that works. I was just a bit bummed when they showed what the caller looked like and all of the things he was doing. Sort of took away the whole mystery-aspect if you ask me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, maybe it would work better without showing him, definetly not so soon.

      Delete
  3. I watch a few reality shows on TV, so I know that humans aren't the most intelligent species.

    This was based on a true story? I still don't believe it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it's unbeliavable! I had to go and see the actual footage to believe that whole thing was real.

      Delete
  4. Jeez... what a story. stupid people are a dangerous thing indeed. but you got me hooked, I'm gonna watch this. I miss watching a good horror film. Though... if this was so humiliating for everyone, how did they even allow a film to be made, I mean... what. And the court's decision? dear god, that's messed up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the actual people must have been paid handsomely for the rights to do the movie and I don't think those guys are highly ethical to begin with :) Also in USA it's pretty well known story from what I gathered, I mean the actual footage is right there on youtube so elegantly shot film is actually a step up here.

      The court decision is ridiculous, but then again many of court decisions in US are.

      Delete
  5. Great review! It made me laugh a few times, people's stupidity can be surprising. I can't believe this ACTUALLY happened more than once. That baffles me. I cannot under any circumstance fathom going through any of those orders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! What happened in other places was actually worse at times - the girls were just young teenagers and managers were guys :/

      Delete
  6. Wow. I'm so in for this. I love a good story showcasing the degradation of humanity.

    Good thing I work in a middle school. Oh, wait. Shit...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *LOL* I've worked in middle schools before -- it can be rough. It's unnatural to have that many raging hormones in a confined space. It all gets kind of Lord of the Flies.

      Delete
    2. I really feel bad for you both :) I couldn't do it, no way I'd teach teenagers ^^

      Delete
  7. Excellent review! Woah. I've read good things on this, but I didn't know the story was THAT ridiculous. Definitely seeing this when it comes out on DVD.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yeah, it's worth watching but not necessarily in cinema.

      Delete
  8. I love what you said about stupidity being the one element that always frightens you. Amen! I do want to see this movie when it becomes available on DVD. Excellent review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yeah when people are stupid they tend not to be scared of consequences of their actions because they don't think of that, they don't think about the effects of what they do. That makes them very dangerous.

      Delete
  9. Great review. I liked how you put in the real life case that this was based on. I heard reviews about Dream Walker being too beautigul and it being exploitive. It was still a horible crime no matter what she looked like. Those reviews made me ill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yeah I couldn't believe someone would write something like this, that kind of logic is really hurtful and stupid.

      Delete
  10. I am so mad that I missed the numerous screenings of this - I really wanted to see it but outside events meant that I kept on having to postpone seeing it. Hopefully I will be able to catch it on video.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you'll have a chance to check it out! So far it's definetly one of the year's finest movies.

      Delete
  11. "Exploitation? Give me a fucking break." YES, EXACTLY! Fuck critics, man.

    Sati, this is a brilliant review, really really enjoyed it. I agree it is scarier than all hell, because it shows just how dumb and complacent some people can be. And you're also right, given the material, this could've been a horrible film, but Zobel did wonders with it. Still my favorite movie of the year so far.

    Well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, glad you enjoy the review I know how much you loved the movie!

      Really, really like this one, it may even be in my top 15 by the time the year is over. I hope two lead actresses won't disappear, they are so talented especially Ann Dowd.

      Delete
  12. I just saw this film and I felt very unclean. Oh man. I felt sorry for the girl for what happened to her. I feel sorry for the manager for being manipulated like that. I feel sorry for her fiancee for being put into that situation. The guy who did this is a complete and utter fucking scumbag.

    Someone please give Ann Dowd a consideration for Best Supporting Actress.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's not really stupidity is it? It's more along the lines of fear of the government, and the lengths we would go to stay out of trouble. How the idea of getting in trouble can make us overlook obvious things. If it is possible, you don't want to risk it. It is very real and so unnerving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes the fear of that is real, but the lengths to which the characters went in the movie were the direct result of their stupidity and ignorance on the subject of what the police can ask them to do.

      Delete