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Compliance (2012)

tomatometer

89

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 131
Fresh: 116 | Rotten: 15

Anchored by smart, sensitive direction and strong performances, Complicance is a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller that's equal parts gripping and disturbing.

89

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 4

Anchored by smart, sensitive direction and strong performances, Complicance is a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller that's equal parts gripping and disturbing.

audience

61

liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 12,548

My Rating

Movie Info

Becky and Sandra aren't the best of friends. Sandra is a middle-aged manager at a fast-food restaurant; Becky is a teenaged counter girl who really needs the job. One stressful day (too many customers and too little bacon), a police officer calls, accusing Becky of stealing money from a customer's purse, which she vehemently denies. Sandra, overwhelmed by her managerial responsibilities, complies with the officer's orders to detain Becky. This choice begins a nightmare that tragically blurs the

R,

Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Special Interest

Craig Zobel

Jan 8, 2013

$0.3M

Magnolia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (131) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (116) | Rotten (15) | DVD (2)

A riveting, horrifying film, shot through with beautifully observed moments of unwelcome truth.

February 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Compliance is one of the toughest sits of the movie year 2012. But it's an uncompromising and, in its way, honorable drama built upon a prank call that goes on and on, getting worse and worse for the people on the other end of the line.

January 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The point of Compliance, which caused walkouts and shouting matches when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is how we are programmed to do things that go against our natural instincts as long as we believe we have the law on our side.

September 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's the adage that life is nasty, brutish and short. It's even worse when you're half-naked and locked in a supply room with your boss.

September 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is one insistent film, more evocative of human behavior than movies that take fewer risks ever could be.

September 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like a John Hughes movie hijacked by Roman Polanski, this troubling indie effort lays bare the sadomasochism of the American workplace.

August 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comment (1)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Compliance is diminutively sufficient and blandly adequate with no additional layers that elevate its small independent nature. It feels rather one note riding on the promise of a distinctive tale that never totally comes to fulfillment.

September 14, 2014 Full Review Source: AwardsCircuit.com
AwardsCircuit.com

A frightening look at the power of authority and the human desire to avoid conflict.

December 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

It never loses sight of its goal to persuade us to be more aware, more questioning of our leaders and institutions, from politicians to priests to, in this case, the police.

May 26, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

The only film of 2012 that had me actively booing its villain - a mundane monster who doesn't need to touch his victims to scar them for life.

May 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Seven Days
Seven Days

Compliance is a horror movie with no sudden frights, no gore, and not a single scream. It's a surveillance video, capturing us with all our blemishes; a reminder that how we see ourselves is so rarely in line with the truth

May 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Quickflix
Quickflix

That the events in Compliance are taking place in a fast-foot restaurant is equally resonant. The junk food we see being prepared couldn't be more disgusting. Surely, you can't help but think, anyone prepared to swallow that will swallow anything.

March 25, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

The perfect companion piece to your copy of Fast Food Nation.

March 25, 2013 Full Review Source: The Ooh Tray
The Ooh Tray

Compliance is a disturbing, exciting and instructive film about matters we should all be prepared to face.

March 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Zobel is canny enough to gradually intensify the level of discomfort to ensure the characters' increasing irrationality feels honest in the situation, regardless of how out-of-whack it seems from a distance.

March 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Scotsman

If a movie's success is measured by its ability to get under our skin and provoke a reaction, then this might be the film of the year. Designed to make us furious, this drama pushes us to the brink as we shout at the characters for being so naive.

March 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Contactmusic.com
Contactmusic.com

A punchy and effective drama.

March 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

An effective, nasty little film from Craig Zobel.

March 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Electric Sheep
Electric Sheep

An uncomfortable, provocative little drama that really gets under the skin and will not be for all tastes.

March 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Well as the film is performed, particularly by Dowd as the manager attempting to make order out of chaos, you can scarcely credit what happens.

March 22, 2013 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

I admired its courageous realism, the fact that it dares to be unpopular yet truthful. Unlike most movies, it will give you plenty to think about.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

The film edges forward diffidently, never quite matching strength of craft to strength of idea. It's creepily beguiling even so ...

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Zobel's morality thriller offers uncomfortable commentary on the sport that can so easily be had at the expense of those on the lower rungs of the social ladder.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Zobel's feature film brings out the creepy, banal horror of this culminating event, and the awful contemporary insights.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Needs more than its "based on a true story" disclaimer to short-circuit our sceptical instinct.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

It might make you a tougher person after watching it.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post

Audience Reviews for Compliance

You will be hard pressed to find a more disturbing thriller this year. Compliance is a harrowing experience, made all the more stressful when you see the terrible way these characters behave thinking the law is on their side.
The film is ultimately a testament not just to our inability to question authority but our unwillingness to. We the audience sit helplessly as we watch a young woman humiliated by people who are supposed to be her friends, all in the name of compliance to what they think is a police officer.
This film explores the dark side of humanity in a way that few films have. It does it with minimal locations and a phone. When the credits rolled I couldn't believe this was based on a true story. Then I looked up the actual case this film was based on. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the events happened exactly as they were told in the film, and how unsettling it is to know that it happened 70 different times and that the perpetrator was acquitted.
September 1, 2014
MovieGeek13

Super Reviewer

Good film, but scary to think it is based on real events.
Trying to put myself in the place of the manager who is phoned by the police and convinced that her employee stole from a customers purse, I am trying to think at what point I personally would have said that's enough. It certainly wouldn't have got to the strip search, I can safely say that much. You would also have to be questioning if the customer is actually telling the truth in the first place, and for that matter, who is this customer.
Staggeringly naive, but I can understand maybe someone being fooled - but at what point would you say no, I will not he doing that, come down yourself?!
I can't even get my head around leaving a half naked young girl with male employees and then your boyfriend while you go and serve customers.
Certainly an interesting and disturbing film and maybe a cautionary tale for the more gullible of us.
June 28, 2014
romy861

Super Reviewer

Unbelievable but true. The emphasis seems to be on how someone can be so manipulative and get away with it so many times but for me it was more 'How can anyone be so stupid?'. It's not an enjoyable experience, it tells us a unique true story but it isn't a nice one. It's sad that people do this to one another but it is sadder still that people are stupid enough to go along with it. As a bit of sensationalist fear-mongering its sickening and uncomfortably voyeuristic but as a comment on society it yet again picks on the little guy rather than point the finger at the people in power. It's a film with a no win ending.
January 10, 2014
SirPant

Super Reviewer

A fast food manager receives a call from the police claiming that one her employees is guilty of theft and that the manager should subject her to more and more brutal searches.
With stellar, understated performances, Compliance is difficult to watch unless one can maintain one's disbelief. I know I'm not supposed to laugh at this film, but I did because the characters' gullibility defies believability. The opening credits triumph that this was based on actual events, and if I hadn't looked up the real case beforehand, I would not have believed it were possible. Heavy-handed in its anti-authority message, the film does well when it shows us what happened, but by the end of it, I still can't understand why it happened.
Overall, we should all watch this film and be able to laugh at it, but alas, the world remains unhumorous.
November 27, 2013
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Marti: Van was a lucky man.
    – Submitted by Lizzie J (13 months ago)
    1. Van: I did a bad thing...
    – Submitted by Thomas Z (2 years ago)
    1. Marti: You don't have a customer... I want you to clean, clean, clean!
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Sandra: I'll do... everything that you need.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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