Movie Review: Compliance (2012)

Posted: July 13, 2013 in Drama


Becky (Dreama Walker) works in a fast-food restaurant in Ohio. Her manager Sandra,(Ann Dowd) gets a call from a police officer, Officer Daniels (Pat Healy) that says Becky stole some money from a customer.  Daniels asks Sandra to search Becky’s purse, nothing was found there, she searches the outside of Becky’s clothes, no money.  Then Daniels asks Sandra to do a strip search of Becky, Sandra calls in Marti, (Ashlie Atkinson) to conduct the strip search in the store room, there is no money in Becky’s bra or panties.  Still, Officer Daniels insists that Becky is hiding the money, and embellishes the story to say that Becky’s brother is a drug dealer and he is searching Becky’s house right now, and that she has a choice to stay there and wait for him to come get her, or go to jail.  The panicked Becky chooses to stay in the storeroom.  Sandra calls Becky’s friend Kevin (Phillip Ettiger) in to watch Becky while she goes up to the front of the restaurant.  Kevin doesn’t feel comfortable watching Becky, now only dressed in an apron, so Sandra calls in her fiancé Van (Bill Camp) to watch Becky.  Bill’s had a few too many beers and is only too happy to comply with the officer’s requests on how to treat Becky. How does this end?  Who is this cop?  How is it that this one man can manipulate so many people at the same time? Does someone de-escalate the situation before it gets any worse?

Compliance is based on a true story of a McDonald’s employee in Kentucky, the  real story is much worse than the dramatized story, which makes it even more infuriating to watch.  As a viewer, you want to help this girl get out of this impossible situation, you want to slap that manager and ask her what she was thinking.  The incident should have ended with the initial strip search, then the manager should have ended it.  Instead, she kept her 18 year old employee in a storeroom for three hours, and brought in a parade of men to watch the girl who was dressed in an apron, and to top it off she brings in her drunk boyfriend to watch Becky, that’s really smart. This is a really hard movie to watch, because there’s tension in the air and the viewer wants the tension to end or wants to stop watching because it’s too frustrating or humiliating to keep watching.  The acting is really good, Dreama Walker plays Becky with a sullen resignation.  Sandra is played by Ann Dowd as the kind of boss no one likes, and Pat Healy, I wanted to punch his character in the face repeatedly.  Great writing, and a claustrophobic sense builds in the storeroom, all of which add to the tension, as Becky desperately wants to get out of there. Writer and director Craig Zobel deserves a lot of credit for keeping the tension high and not letting the story drag. This is a really compelling, if very disturbing, movie to watch.  It made me wonder how far people would go to comply with an authority figure.

Compliance. Disturbing to the core of my being.


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