Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Compliance review

Based on a true story, Compliance stars Dreama Walker (from Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23) and Ann Dowd (who's name was on the shortlist for best supporting actress this year, I didn't see it) in a tense voyeuristic (whew! the spell-check worked overtime correcting that word for me) drama about a prank call that morphed into a case of a sexual assault in the back room of a fast food restaurant.

Compliance is one of the few films I've seen in recent years that could measure up to Hitchcock (the other one that comes to mind is Terrence Young's 1967 film Wait Until Dark) Disturbing and heart-poundingly suspenseful without any excessive dramatic devices, Compliance was a viscerally uncomfortable experience in a way I haven't really experienced lately and in that sense it was a unique and thought-provoking experience. Unique and thought-provoking are two things I hope to get out of every film I see.

On the other hand, the film was flawed structurally with such a heavy overemphasis on the first act. I'm going to guess that 3/4 of the screentime is from Becky's point of view. While it is necessary to show the horrificness from Becky's POV to its full emotional effect, I think that after a while, it started to feel like empty space that could be filled in with other angles like giving us a fuller picture of the villain, the thought-process of the cynical friend Kevin, the psychological aftermath of Becky, and the police investigation. I'm not suggesting that the film would have been better as a Tony Scott (RIP) style thriller, but a little more emphasis on that would have been better. In fact, the more I think about it, the more sure of it I seem.

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