Compliance, directed by Craig Zobel, is based on a true story. So how could it make eight people walk out during a showing? When it premiered at Sundance, reported Francesca Steele on The Independent, it caused hostile reactions from the audience. And it’s not even a “gory potboiler.” The film is based on the real case of a prank caller in Kentucky, in 2004, who subtly forced people to do bad things. The plot sees a manageress in a fast-food restaurant receiving a phone call from someone who claims he is a policeman; he tells her that one of her waitresses is stealing, and that she munt interrogate her. She does so; events lead to the waitress being left alone, naked, with several men.
The film, say critics, reveals just what humans will do under pressure, and when a figure of authority tells them to do something they don’t necessarily want to do. It opens in Britain in October.
What would you do?
“ It’s a powerful look at the psychology of obedience,” said Francesca Steele, that recalls both the Holocaust and the controversial Milgram experiment, in which subjects were persuaded to administer what they believed to be near fatal electric shocks to their peers, under the supervision of scientists.” The film is hardly exploitative; but it does make you ask questions. “The most disturbing aspect of Compliance is its implied complicity. What would you do?”
An examination of corporate relationships
“It’s difficult for an outside observer to understand how, with nothing more than an unwavering tone of authority, a man was able to fool restaurant managers into engaging in such heinous behavior,” said Julian Scanton on Bloomberg Business Week. But fictionalising it makes it, somehow, more believable. Being set in a fast food restaurant allows it to examine “corporate structures and relationships,” its hierarchy explaining why a manager might get things wrong. This film reminds us that we should constantly question what we’re asked to do.
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