Imagine you are the manager at a fast-food joint on a busy Friday night. You are short staffed. You are out of bacon and pickles. You are a happy-go-lucky type and your fiancé is about to propose. You tell yourself, you can weather this night. You huddle with your employees. You stress the importance of teamwork.
This is Sandra’s (Ann Dowd) scenario as the phone rings at ChickWich. A detective on the other end of the line tells Sandra he is on different line with her regional manager. Detective informs Sandra that her employee, Becky (Dreama Walker), has stolen money from a customer and that Sandra needs to question her. The questioning leads to searching Becky’s purse. The interrogation escalates and by night’s end, several people will push the boundaries of logic, rational thinking and harassment.
The beauty of Compliance is that you will criticize how far several characters go to following direction from a supposed authority figure over the phone. A few question but don’t push; they extricate themselves so as not to make waves. It will take the unexpected to say what you, the audience, will be declaring from the start: Stop.
Writer/director Craig Zobel was inspired by experiments conducted by sociologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s at Yale University. Milgram documented the lengths people will go to follow directions from authority figures, even if they diverge from the individual’s person code of conduct. Milgram’s conclusions have inspired many movies. In Compliance, Zobel applies Milgram’s findings to a frenzied Friday night in the back room of a fast-food establishment and shows you how it can happen. You will say over and over, I wouldn’t do it but many people have done just that.
Writer/Director: Craig Zobel
Run time: 90 minutes