I went to watch this film after hearing both positive and negative reviews and the backlash in its Sundance screening.Whoa!Its definitely something different.
Directed by Craig Zobel,Compliance consist of mostly unknown actors with Ann Dowd,Dreama Walker and Pat Healy as its main characters.The film is inspired by the true events that happened few years ago and by that I meant all the creepy things that happened in the film really happened.For real.
Set in fast food restaurant in a small town,the manager of the restaurant,Sandra(Ann Dowd) starts her busy day with the news of someone leaving the fridge opened and most of the food were spoilt.Sandra doubts Becky(Dreama Walker),the young inexperience but decides not to make a fuss as its the inspection day.As the day goes on,Sandra receives a call from a police officer(Pat Healy) ,who claims one of the worker(with the description of Becky) had stolen the money from a customer and orders Becky to be confined.While Becky pleads for her innocence,the officer asks Sandra to help him with the investigation until another officer arrives.And that's where the film starts to take a creepy turn and Craig Zobel brilliantly showcases how much would the characters comply to the authority's(in this case the police) demand and do things that is clearly not right.
The script and the dialogues are simple and straightforward and it really works in the film as the film carries a heavy subject.Its pretty clear that Craig Zobel had researched before writing the script.I was amazed how the 'grooming' process was accurately depicted in the film.The caller extracts valuable information from whomever is answering the phone,constantly reminding that he is in charge,using compliments when they are nervous and threats when they refuse to comply and finally achieving what he wants,in this case the continuous humiliation of Becky.
The musical score definitely sets the tone throughout the film.For example the scene where Sandra brings Becky's clothes to the car accompanied haunting score brilliantly depicts the wrong things going on in the film and the stuff that is going to happen.
The performance from its cast is what elevates the film from a good movie to a great one.Ann Dowd performance as the deceived manager is a revelation.Her performance was so good and natural that not even for a second that I thought she was acting.I wonder how much of her lines were self improvised as it was so spontaneous.From the start where we see her getting jealous of her young co workers to a manipulated women doing things what she clearly felt wrong and finally as women in denial that she was part guilty for this mess,Ann manages to portray this layered role with ease.
Dreama Walker as the innocent Becky was equally good as Dowd.With her big teary eyes and expression, she manages to showcase the vulnerability of the naive Becky.Its a daring bold role and kudos to her for accepting the role and excelling in it.Pat Healy as the creepy prankster had some really good moments in the film.
Since its a independent feature with a unknown cast and disturbing topic, I'm not sure how well it will be received by the AMPAS but this is a film that surely deserves the recognition.Anyhow,Compliance is definitely a disturbing film(more disturbing than The Sleeping Beauty ) but worth watching for its message and the performances of its cast.
Possible Oscar contenders:
Best Original Screenplay: Craig Zobel
Best Actress: Ann Dowd
Best Supporting Actor: Pat Healy
Best Suporting Actress : Dreama Walker