Thursday, 3 January 2013

Compliance (2012) - Craig Zobel

For the past ten years or so phones and films have not been happy bedfellows. I’m not talking about the whole cinema experience being ruined by people not being able to stay off the fucking things during films. Cinema patrons constant need to check what’s happening on Facebook or Twitter seems to have become more important now than sinking into the film they’ve just paid money to see. No that’s not what I’m talking about here (lucky you). It's more that since mobile phones have become so commonplace film scripts have had to deal with them and the problems they can cause a script. In the pre mobiles world tension could be ramped up by something as easy as someone being stuck in a room at work after everyone else had gone home. Nowadays tech savvy audiences won't stand for any nonsense. Phones are the ultimate get out of jail free card for most of the uncomfortable situations that a film character might find themselves in. So sometimes now the tension can come from something as mundane as trying to get a working signal or the old forgot to charge the phone chestnut. It’s a brave new world for certain, but it can be a bugger if you’re trying to write a thriller.

Sometimes a film comes along though that incorporates our friend the phone as a major plot point. Buried or the original Scream flick for example, both of these films used phones to build the unease the audience were (hopefully) feeling. Compliance is one such film. Set in a fast food place on a typically busy day, short of staff and thanks to a recent balls up with a fridge causing certain items to not be on the menu, it’s going to be a tougher than usual day at work. But for Becky (Dreama Walker) it’s going to be particularly tough, since half way through the shift her boss Sandra (Ann Dowd) receives a phone call from Officer Daniels (Pat Healy) informing her that Becky has stolen some money from a customer. He tells Sandra to hold Becky in a secure room until he can get there. And that’s your lot plot wise, since any more would spoil what is a cracking film.

Writer-director Craig Zobel does a stellar job at creating a convincing environment in which this nasty little film plays out. Although not strictly a Horror film (despite being pretty grim), it does that great thing that Horror flicks do - putting the audience in the characters shoes. All the way though the ninety minute running time you’ll question exactly what you would do in either Becky or Sandra’s situation.

It’s a faultless film, it’s not flashy (but still looks good), the acting is naturalistic in a way that American films rarely are. The cast are impeccable, and this really is one of those films where the words spoken are far more important than the visuals. Most of the action takes place in one room with the majority of the dialogue being between people that aren’t even sharing the same screen space.

I wish I could say more, but I can’t. Just see it. One thing I can promise is you’ll be straight onto Google afterwards since it’s a true story.

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