90 minutes, U.S.A., 2012, Colour, D-Cinema

One of the year’s most compelling, disquieting, and polarising films, Compliance is a dark study of our natural tendency to obey authority, and the lengths to which the individual will go in order to please those in power.

Stressed Sandra (Ann Dowd, excellent) is the middle-aged manager of a fast food restaurant who receives a phone call on a busy Friday night from an Officer Daniels, informing her that one of her employees, teenager Becky (Dreama Walker), has been caught on camera stealing from a customer’s purse. Officer Daniels, seemingly busy with other responsibilities, uses Sandra’s trust in his position to persuade her that a strip search will save Becky from a night in jail and earn Sandra the approval of her manager. Events escalate as Sandra is instructed to make other employees and even her fiancé complicit in Becky’s humiliation.

Horribly plausible, it’s a film which will divide audiences and provoke much debate and soul-searching. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)

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