Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 32
  2. Negative: 4 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Aug 17, 2012
    100
    The actors in Compliance perform with thorough and chilling sincerity.
  2. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Aug 8, 2012
    91
    With a slow, relentless buildup focused on sexual humiliation, Compliance intensifies the "requests" put on Sandra, and eventually other employees, to behave immorally in the name of cooperation.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Sep 6, 2012
    90
    It makes you think. And that's invaluable.
  4. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Aug 23, 2012
    90
    With its harrowing restraint, Compliance is potent filmmaking that's not easily forgotten.
  5. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Aug 20, 2012
    90
    Compliance is a small movie, but it provides insight into large and frightening events, like the voluntary participation of civilians in the terrible crimes of the last century.
  6. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Aug 16, 2012
    90
    A slow-motion punch to the groin. As such, it's fitting that one of our first sights is a large "NO" stenciled in the parking lot of a fast-food joint in suburban Ohio: as the film progresses, the word becomes a silent mantra for viewers who can't quite believe what they're seeing.
  7. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Aug 30, 2012
    88
    Zobel's unsparing approach is justified. This film should be hard to watch - and it is. But it's also hard to forget.
  8. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    Aug 23, 2012
    88
    A taut, understated minimalist masterwork.
  9. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Aug 16, 2012
    88
    The truth can indeed be stranger than fiction and, in this case, were the story to have originated in the imagination of the screenwriter, it could rightfully be criticized as artificial and contrived. But, disturbing and unlikely as it may be, this stuff actually happened, and pretty much as Craig Zobel relates it.
  10. Reviewed by: Todd Gilchrist
    Jul 28, 2012
    83
    Compliance is as much a meta-textual gauntlet as it is a movie; its subject matter not only deserves, but demands to be discussed and argued about, rather than being simply accepted at face value.
  11. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Jul 28, 2012
    83
    The subject matter is unrelentingly sordid yet the storytelling is so deadpan and understated that it's difficult, if not impossible, to dismiss it as exploitation or sexist provocation.
  12. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Aug 20, 2012
    80
    If this riveting, repelling film is to be seen, it must be not at home but in a theater, where you are confined in a room, like Sandra and Becky, deciding whether to watch, and how you would react.
  13. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Aug 18, 2012
    80
    Compliance examines, among other things, how misplaced faith in authority can lead to abuse on a systemic scale. It's a deeply moral movie about the failure of morality, as grueling to watch as it is necessary.
  14. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Aug 14, 2012
    80
    You can't believe what you're watching: Compliance, true to its title, digs into the rarely explored subject of psychological acquiescence (behavioral scientist Stanley Milgram should get a cowriting credit), with common-sense dignity being the first casualty.
  15. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    Jul 13, 2012
    80
    Likely to spur discussions about workplace safety, employee rights and broader awareness of sexual predation, Compliance is also a suspenseful psychological drama for viewers prepared to tolerate its extremes.
  16. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Jul 13, 2012
    80
    In taut, gripping and deeply disturbing fashion, writer-director Craig Zobel measures the depths to which rational individuals will sink to obey a self-anointed authority figure in Compliance.
  17. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Sep 6, 2012
    78
    It's a small gem of a movie, disturbingly realistic and profoundly terrifying on a near-primal level.
  18. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Sep 20, 2012
    75
    Zobel isn't a sadist about all of this as, say, Roman Polanski or David Lynch or Todd Solondz might have been. There's a humanity here, even for the restaurant manager. But that still doesn't make Compliance easy to ingest.
  19. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Aug 30, 2012
    75
    The very antonym of "fun," writer-director Craig Zobel's new film Compliance is one of the toughest sits of the movie year 2012. But it's an uncompromising and, in its way, honorable drama built upon a prank call that goes on and on.
  20. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Aug 29, 2012
    75
    This is a well-made film, with plausible performances by all the leads, especially Ann Dowd.
  21. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Aug 23, 2012
    75
    Some films are harder to watch than others - not because they're bad, which makes for a different sort of painful viewing, but because they touch on areas of such profound moral discomfort that the mere act of watching makes us feel complicit. We feel like gutless witnesses to a crime. And that's what makes Compliance such a hard thing to stomach.
  22. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Aug 16, 2012
    75
    Craig Zobel's potent and provocative Compliance is torture to sit through. It's also indispensable filmmaking. How is that possible? Check it out.
  23. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Aug 16, 2012
    75
    It's a movie that must be seen, processed and discussed, perhaps the first of its kind to transform the audience into a focus group.
  24. Reviewed by: Adam Litovitz
    Aug 2, 2012
    75
    Compliance develops an intriguing premise intelligently, inquisitively and uncomfortably.
  25. Reviewed by: Steve Erickson
    Aug 14, 2012
    70
    Compliance lets neither men nor women off the hook.
  26. Reviewed by: Ray Greene
    Jul 13, 2012
    70
    The audience for this movie will have to be an adventurous one, and even then a substantial portion will be outraged by what they see.
  27. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Aug 16, 2012
    60
    Director Craig Zobel's indie, based on real cases, has a sharp psychological point and a can't-look-away quality even as it turns horrifically dark.
  28. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Aug 30, 2012
    50
    Compliance is an extraordinarily assured, well-made drama, signaling a promising career for Zobel, an adroit filmmaker with a talent for taut pacing and staging. But it also fails its first test, which is that the audience believe every word of it.
  29. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Sep 21, 2012
    25
    The movie even fails on a psychological level, never illustrating how, in a pressure-cooker environment and swept up by mob-think mentality, we are capable of committing acts that innately repel us.
  30. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    Aug 23, 2012
    12
    People do stupid things all the time. My friend and I sat through Compliance, didn't we? But there is a level of stupidity displayed by the people in this movie that beggars belief. Their behavior is to stupidity as the Death Star is to a doughnut.
  31. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Aug 12, 2012
    12
    It seems as if Craig Zobel wants to implicate the audience in these proceedings, but he doesn't have a very clear idea how to go about it.
  32. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Aug 23, 2012
    0
    This nasty little bottom-feeder of a film is too condescending to be trusted, too manipulative to be believed, too turgid to be enjoyed, too shameless to be endured and, before and after everything else, too inept to make its misanthropic case.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 61 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 20
  2. Negative: 6 out of 20
  1. ber
    Aug 30, 2012
    1
    Everything about this movie is dumb. Not least the characters who must share an IQ of 75 between them. Along with the tedious pacing and sub par acting performances i'm at a loss as to why this is so highly rated. Full Review »
  2. Mar 9, 2013
    8
    Important to note that this movie is inspired by true events. Not entertaining in the way most movies are. It is uncomfortable to sit through and extremely frustrating, but also very compelling and suspenseful. A unique edge-of-your-seat and absorbing thriller, this is the most unsettling movie of the year. Full Review »
  3. Feb 13, 2013
    0
    This is the most absurd film ever. I can't believe it has so high score. Even the Americans aren't that dumb, well maybe they are, seeing the score and the reviews. Full Review »