Published Aug 09, 2012Remember that time at the office when your boss unthinkingly made a sardonic comment directed at you, debasing your work or something you did, and a rage built up inside your gut to the point that you tomahawked a number two pencil at his or her head? Whelp, that's the exact same sensation you get in the pit of your stomach when you watch Compliance, the new film by Craig Zobel. It's almost like the antithesis to hip-hop: a so-called "figure of authority" bashes a demographic to the soil and no one bothers to lift a finger to abject, fight back or rebel.
That's at least how the first hour of Compliance plays out. First we are introduced to the characters and setting by way of artistically shot montages. Sandra (Ann Dowd), Becky (Dreama Walker), Marti (Ashlie Atkinson), and Kevin (Philip Ettinger), among others, are the staff of a restaurant called ChikWich, which is something similar to Chick-Fil-A.
Sandra is the manager. She has a boyfriend named Van (Bill Camp), who she considers her fiancée, although you get the feeling he's not exactly on the same page. Becky is a cute, but naive cashier in her late teens or early 20s who's prone to brag about her constant barrage of boyfriends with spray-on abs. Marti is a good-humoured shift manager, entertaining herself vicariously through inter-restaurant politics, while Kevin is a sarcastic, cowardly, early 20-something who should have paid more attention to his grades in high school. Together they form a cohesive, but disengaged team of simpletons ― a rather heartless stereotype for fast food joint employees.
Drama picks up in the first ten to 15 minutes when Sandra receives a phone call from a man who claims to be a cop, Officer Daniels (Pat Healy), who accuses Becky of lifting ten dollars from a customer's purse. Daniels alleges that the victim in question is with him at the station and they have surveillance footage of Becky stealing the bill.
Of course all that is bullshit. You realize something is fishy when Daniels starts stumbling on the phone and orders Sandra to strip-search Becky all the way down to her nude buttocks. Things get even more farfetched when Daniels orders Sandra's squeeze, Van, down to the restaurant to spread Becky's legs and reach into her vagina to see if she's stashed the ten bucks up there.
It's not that the scenes are overly graphic; it's more that the characters in the film continue to comply to this sicko's perverted requests, without even the slightest hint of suspicion, for far too long. It gets to the point that you despise Sandra, Becky, Marti, Kevin and Van, along with Daniels the perv, so much that you don't care what happens to them. (eOne)