Still of Dreama Walker in Compliance
Director: Craig Zobel
Sundance Film Festival
Compliance is a fascinating look at how everyday people respond to authority. Based on a true event, Compliance takes place in an Ohio fast food joint called Chickwich. Chickwich manager Sandra (Ann Dowd) isn’t having the best day. She has lost $1400 in merchandise after one of her employees didn’t close the freezer door all the way. It’s a busy night for Chickwich and they are out of pickles, running low on bacon and to top it all off, a secret shopper might be coming by that evening. In the midst of a rush, Sandra receives a call from a police officer informing that one of her employees, a young blonde named Becky (Dreama Walker), has stolen money out of a customer's purse. Sandra can’t seem to catch a break on this day. The officer instructs Sandra that she needs to hold Becky in the back room until they can arrive. It doesn’t take long for the officer to change his mind though. It will be easier for everyone if Sandra can just start the investigation herself. In Compliance, Zobel takes viewers on a twisted ride as Sandra and other Chickwich employees follow outrageous orders from this officer, even when the actions make them visibly uncomfortable. Largely dialogue-based and only shot in a few locations, strong acting was key to Compliance’s success. Although the situation seems over-the-top, and I found myself wondering why no one would hang up the phone a number of times, each character’s role is completely believable. Compliance is infuriating and the excellent acting of the cast make the degrading acts on the screen even more difficult to watch. Cheers to Zobel for ripping a headline from the paper and crafting it into a psychological thriller.