One of the most controversial movies at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, writer-director Craig Zobel’s tense indie drama Compliance is based on the true story of a restaurant manager who locked an employee in the back office and told her to strip, under orders from a telephone caller who was impersonating a policeman. In Compliance, Dreama Walker plays the employee, a cashier coerced into doing naked jumping-jacks in a stockroom by her boss (played by Ann Dowd), who in turn is trying to placate a prankster voiced by Pat Healy. There aren’t too many places that this story can go—it mostly follows a straight line from the moment the restaurant gets the call to the moment when everyone realizes they’ve been duped—and Zobel doesn’t entirely shy away from the titillation factor, which raised questions about whether Compliance is just an exploitation picture dressed up as a social-problem play. But the cast is all terrific, and Zobel effectively illustrates how the drudgery and petty bullshit of a food-service gig creates the perfect environment for an incident like this. And Compliance has a stinging point to make, too, about how too many people are convinced that that if they cooperate with the authorities, everything will work out. Compliance airs on Showtime Next at 2:30 a.m. Eastern.
November 10, 2014 newsreel