Quick Hit Movie Reviews #2: 'Compliance' (2012) and 'Admission' (2013)

 Compliance (2012)

What makes watching this movie so wondrously frustrating to get through is the knowledge that the events depicted throughout its run time, actually happened. As sensationally difficult as it is to believe, the disturbing situation re-enacted in the film transpired in the recent past and as security cameras rolled. This fictionalized account stays closer to the facts than most true crime films typically do.

"Compliance" tells a story so twisted and horrifying that a Hollywood screenwriter would have a hard time matching its insidiousness with a work of fiction. That's because most of the horror comes from knowing this was someone's reality. It all unravels after the manager of a fast food restaurant (Ann Dowd) receives a prank call that Becky (Dreama Walker), one of her employees, has stolen money from a customer. This accusation eventually leads to Becky being strip searched to prove her innocence and from there it gets even worse.

At the eerie center of “Compliance” are the motives it suggests for the otherwise, irrational behavior of two adults and a traumatized teen. That a sinister opportunist will bide their time to take advantage of another person's lowest and most vulnerably moment is an honest and chillingly accurate assertion. Also illustrated is the depraved nature of a person who stands by and does nothing to stop it. Director Craig Zobel allows the walls to close in around his audience as Becky’s desperation becomes viewers’.

Dreama Walker brings the fragile torment of Becky into sharp focus and Ann Dowd portrays the cruel mentality of an individual's clinical arrogance with searing authenticity. Sad and confusing are the lengths, the self-righteous manager goes to in the name of reclaiming what she believes to be a theft of petty cash. It's a dollar amount that in no way warrants her rabid response and zealous alarm to begin with, leading one to wonder if she didn't have her own malicious motivations to so readily take the bait. 

The whole situation is sickening. If Becky were informed of what would transpire ahead of time, she would have probably never believed it. The scenario was much like that of being trapped in quicksand and others maliciously pushed her in deeper. It’s not an easy film to watch but if it wakes someone up to the realization they might be sinking into a similar situation and it prevents them from becoming a victim, then it’s worth it. Rating: 7.2/10

Admission (2013)

A quirky dramedy that focuses on the driven Portia (Tina Fey) an admissions officer for Yale who learns that a recent applicant might be the son she gave up for adoption as a young adult. There is a heartfelt energy to this story that makes its way through exploring the effects of adoption on the child and the biological parent.

What motherhood entails when the birth mother gives another woman the gift of raising her child. How does she fit into the reality of an adoptee’s life as an adult? "Admission" also contemplates what defines a parent and the integral impact that parental figures both biological and adoptive have on our life. It’s all pondered about in a grey, humorous, and human fashion.

Paul Weitz’ direction draws one in enough that you want all involved to have a happy ending, an unprecedented accomplishment. While none of the characters are perfect they are so perfectly crafted with soulful flaws that one can’t help relate and root for them. 

This is one of the best movies that Tina Fey has been a part of and her performance reflects that. It’s generously sincere and while she once again portrays the archetypal type-A persona she does so well, it’s with a pinch of contemplative maturity this time around. Paul Rudd finally makes his way out of his haze of hipster roles to offer something closer to his memorable turn in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, a welcomed change of pace.

"Admission" offers an unexpected slice of hearty decency that’s trailer did not give it the justice it deserved. Funny and dramatic, “Admission” is an authentic slice of life and seldom can you effectively sum up a life experience in 2 minutes. Rating: 7.5/10