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« Trash Humpers (2010) - DVD | Main | Premium Rush (2012) »

August 23, 2012


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Can we assume that an audience member at least partially agrees to suspend disbelief by walking into the theatre to see a film?

It seems to me that one of the strongest cultural comments of Compliance is revealed when we realize that the two characters who refused to be compliant had the least to lose. Kevin is young, has his life ahead of him and probably minimal responsibilities, except to himself. Harold, if he isn't homeless, at least has a conventionally unenviable lifestyle. The others have jobs they need and "civilized" ideas of themselves to protect, which may make them more vulnerable to authority.

Do we kowtow to perceived authority in order to minimize the risk of losing what has become important to us? The Compliance characters who become complicit and compliant lose something extremely important (self-respect? strong personal ethics?) perhaps because of their fear of losing what is in fact much less valuable. Sad thing is, some of them (typified by Sandra) may not even realize what they have lost.


Well, all right, but I still don't think that necessarily excuses the film's implausibility. Even if a movie is based on real events, it has to appear credible within its own confines. I'll let a better writer than me explain what I think. This is from the Boston Globe review:

"Something in our neural nature predisposes us to accept whatever we see up on the screen as reality — and that’s even before factoring in synchronized sound and the illusion of motion. A giant, impregnable space station called the Death Star? Sure, why not. A little later, the destruction of that same Death Star by a torpedo-like thing whooshing up a heating duct? Sure, that, too. Some combination of our desire to believe and a filmmaker’s artistry makes the movies work.

That gift comes with a disclaimer, though. Note those words “filmmaker’s artistry.” Just as we happily grant the most fantastical onscreen actions a dramatic actuality so long as the filmmaker makes them seem real, so do we reject anything that violates our experience of human nature and everyday life. Even if we’re watching a docudrama about something we know happened, and it doesn’t feel real? Then forget about it."

Paul Edwards

All the facts in the film occur almost exactly as they did in real life. Google Louise Ogborn McDonalds Mt. Washington, KY.


Did you feel it was plausible though? I agree with a lot of your praise of the film but 2 minutes into that phone call, it was patently obvious that it was a prank. And it should have been equally obvious to each and every character in the film. I don't know how much of this actually happened - the 'based on a true story' claim is flexible at the best of times - but I was taken out of the film at every step by the fact that I couldn't possibly buy that any of it was happening. Anyone who has watched one episode of a cop show would become suspicious by the time the prank caller asked for a strip search.


Agree with your review here, but disagree about festival audiences. I've never been to Sundance - and other festivals I have attended certainly have their share of clueless assholes in the auditorium - but this is the case with any sufficiently large population at a screening. You just have a more full house, and a forum afterwards at a festival, which is generally lacking at the multiplex.

So I'm not sure if your mutliplex populism is even accurate here - I'm sure there are plenty of self-righteous jerkwads and your local Landmark, too!


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