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'Compliance'

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Reviewed by Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 16, 2012

SXSW Film

Compliance

Festival Favorites
D: Director Craig Zobel; with Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pat Healy, Bill Camp

Craig Zobel's controversial film is based on true incidents, although the filmmaker seems to draw greater inspiration from Stanley Milgram's famous social experiments concerning the link between obedience and authority. In his study, the majority of Milgram's participants (depressingly) inflicted physical harm on other individuals when instructed to do so by a blame-accepting authority figure. These experiments helped explain the Nazi phenomenon, but they also help make sense of the hideous events that occur in this movie's suburban Ohio fast-food joint. To reveal too much will ruin whatever suspense the movie holds, especially for those unfamiliar with the distressing results of Milgram's experiment. And that becomes the paradox of Compliance: The film is absolutely riveting while at the same time consistently repetitive, upping the stakes with each new character drawn into the travesty but never really moving the bar. The performances by Ann Dowd and Dreama Walker are superlative and are intrinsic to maintaining viewers' fascination with the characters' outcomes.


Saturday, March 17, 6:30pm, Alamo Lamar

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