Now on Netflix: Movie Reviews for 'The Look of Love' and 'Compliance'

The Look of Love (2013)  

This biopic carries viewers through the fascinating life of Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan), a successful British real estate mogul, club owner and publisher; who up until his death in 2008, was the wealthiest man in all of Britain. Avoiding the portrayal of an individual as either a saint or a devil is a good place to start when it comes to depicting a real-life person and “The Look of Love” succeeds in presenting its subject as simply being human.

Reteaming with frequent directing collaborator Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan gives one of his best performances in a role that demands a greater versatility than his typical work, a challenge he proves to be quite adept at tackling here. Bringing his trademark charisma to the role, Coogan is endearing as Raymond, a man who in lesser hands might’ve had a harder time getting a fair representation. Up until seeing this, Paul Raymond was a personally unfamiliar figure and this film provided an interesting introduction, to say the least. "The Look of Love" depicts his incredibly colorful life and the typical hazards that come with excessive financial achievement.

As a womanizer and drug user, the Raymond character finds a redemptive streak in his relationship with daughter Debbie, whom he lavishly spoils and genuinely adores. Rising star Imogen Poots gives an exceptional performance as the vivacious Debbie, sharing genuine father/daughter chemistry with Coogan, something that softens the oft-times frigid persona of Raymond. “A Look of Love” is a mesmerizing ride that provides a captivating portrait of a complicated man. Heartfelt despite its debauch interludes, it proves an unexpectedly moving and highly memorable experience. Rating: 8/10

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. It's 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