Grumpy Old Critics

… for moviegoers that don't LIKE everything ….

Compliance (2012)


Well, I finally saw the most controversial Independent “Spirit Award” nominee of last year: COMPLIANCE. A film that caused a near-riot at Sundance 2012 when feminists cried “foul” as the BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS story reached its disgusting climax. Of course the horror generated here is deeper than the usual stereotyped teenaged heroine in  danger, as it crosses intellectual and moral boundaries.

That said, longtime character actress Ann Dowd (“Garden State”) was present at the Spirit Awards screening to talk us down from the edge of hysteria. OK, I may be exaggerating, though some of the explicit scenes did elicit embarrassed giggles from some audience members.

The “WTF?” situations were compiled from the transcripts of a series of “prank calls” made over a period of 10 years by the SAME caller. A man who was later arrested and ACQUITTED by a jury due to circumstantial evidence.

Meanwhile, many of the people he goaded [SPOILER] into committing crimes (in the guise of a police officer) were arrested and sentenced to prison. Go figure?

What we as an audience are left with is an uncomfortable work situation where the manager of a fast food restaurant (Ann Dowd) “obeys the law” and pulls a young female employee (Dreama Walker) off the line and into her office for a routine search, then later (as directed by “the law”) for a full strip!

All of this happens while the mgr. is cajoled on the phone by conniving “cop” who “states” he is involved in a 2-pronged investigation and cannot be present at the store. Some critics have argued that these “rural” fast-food employees are poorly educated and could be easily duped by a clever prankster, but in reality over 70 actual cases were reported across 30 states in the USA.

For me it’s not a matter of IQ, it’s a matter of questioning authority. Do you take everything told to you at face value? If so, you are a member of the 65% that is not totally gullible, just unswervingly obedient to authority (cops, older white males, etc.) that fell for this scam. Living amongst liberals (& street scammers) I ALWAYS question authority, which is probably why my job resume is full of short-term positions (due to insubordination). But here’s a film that backs up my stance, though it’s awfully hard to watch people getting suckered (and hardly entertaining). Still COMPLIANCE offers a lesson that “innocent” folks would be better served to learn from the film than the hard way in the real world.

Final analysis: Prank calling needs to be re-examined by lawmakers so that the punishment fits the crime … why should law-abiding citizens under duress be made to suffer so one person can get their jollies scot-free.

Score: 2-1/2 stars (out of 4) – Reviewed by Gary Cabana (a very-Grumpy Old Critic)

Movie website:

Compliance (2012)

Additional info for cinephiles:

(Fest debut:Sundance2012) Compliance [(2012)USA/
distrib:Magnolia/MPAA Rated R] – (*DVD available from Jan. 8, 2013)

    Main crew:

Directed by Craig Zobel
Writer: Craig Zobel

    Main & Supporting Cast… Characters

Ann Dowd … Sandra Matt (Fast Food restaurant mgr.)
Dreama Walker … Becky (Cashier)
Pat Healy … Officer Daniels
Ashlie Atkinson … Marti (Asst.mgr.)
Bill Camp … Van (Becky’s boyfriend)

    Additional crew:

Original Music: Heather McIntosh
Director of photography: Adam Stone
Editors: Jane Rizzo

    Additional cast… Characters

Philip Ettinger … Kevin (Store team member)
Nikiya Mathis … Connie (Store team member)
Ralph Rodriguez … Julio (Store team member)
Stephen Payne … Harold (Store team member)
Amelia Fowler … Brie (Store team member)


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This entry was posted on February 4, 2013 by in Full reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , .


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