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MOVIE REVIEW: "Compliance"

Cause and effect


It's one of the best films I've seen all year, but the simple premise of Craig Zobel's riveting "Compliance" practically demands that I say as little as possible in order to preserve its impact. The title card reads "Inspired by true events" before it drops us into a nondescript Ohio fast-food joint where Becky (Dreama Walker) gets hauled into the office once her mousy but officious boss Sandra (the astonishing Ann Dowd) fields a phone call from a man who identifies himself as Officer Daniels (Pat Healy). Becky has been accused of theft, and since the cop apparently can't get over there right away, he instructs Sandra in how to go about the investigation. What follows is a deftly paced and absolutely unsettling depiction of a mentality that we know all too well. Says Sandra in the aftermath: "I was doing what I thought was the right thing."