The lives of two neighbours within an apartment complex couldn’t be more different than night and day. Once the ice is broken a common bond unites them in their obsessive compulsive disorders. Will their collective obsessions bring them closer together or tear their worlds apart in Compulsion?
Directed By: Egidio Coccimiglio
Starring: Heather Graham, Carrie-Ann Moss, Kevin Dillon, Joe Montegna
From the opening credits Compulsion utilizes vivid cinematography highlighting an assortment of hues and textures unto the collective beholders’ eye. Make no mistake about it the filmmakers harness the subconscious effectively appealing to the visual pallet. We’re introduced into the mind of Amy (Heather Graham) as an expose of how a gourmet chef may present their entrees unto their patrons.
The monologue of Graham in character of Amy is dissociative, neurotic and eerily compelling. It doesn’t take long to realize Amy is psychologically imbalanced and obsessed with seeking approval through food. Instantly we’re intrigued with her quirkiness, an appetite conjured for what may be served next.
Compulsion is an adaptation of Cheol-so Park’s “301-302” and is slated as director Egidio Coccimiglio’s fifth endeavor. Although I’m not versed within the original story line one can only conceive that this rendition translates well unto a western audience. We’re drawn to Amy and her one track mind of thinking even as those closest to her squirm in discomfort.
The rising tension between Amy and her better half Fred (Kevin Dillon) is imminent. We sense their disdain instantly and triple layer their unease as their dysfunctional layers come tumbling down. Psychologically their inability to communicate apart from food and sex is fascinating and we revel in their inept interactions perhaps living vicariously through their actions.
Individual circumstances of the neighbours Amy and Saffron (Carrie-Ann Moss) and their collective contrast in neurosis is engaging. Amy’s abandonment issues and obsession with approval is accented with Saffron’s need for seclusion and a reclusive lifestyle. Their imbalance evens out the relationship and its touching to see them take a small step towards self-actualization.
The plot escalates in an effective manner. Just when we suspect the story line is going in one inevitable direction, it rapidly takes another route entirely, much to the delight of fans of delicacy in the cinematic menu.
Scenes depicting Saffron’s youth are illustrated effectively in black and white grandiose. We feel the angst and pressure within a childhood star and she suddenly becomes much more human unto the audience. It’s evident the pivotal point in the Saffron-Amy relationship takes place here as Amy realizes her neighbour is anything but what she had perceived.
Casting Joe Mantegna as the investigating officer Reynolds was a savvy move. You may recall Mantegna’s works through The Godfather 3 or the television series Criminal Minds. If his voice seems hauntingly familiar I’d recommend watching the Simpsons with any episode in which mobster Fat Tony appears. His role as Detective Reynolds brings some air of authenticity to the table. Some of the dialogue exchanged with the character Amy is priceless as the battle of wits ensues.
The final act of Compulsion is so morbid, it’d make Alfred Hitchcock himself proud and well worth the wait. Personally I’m a huge fan of Graham’s work and would in all likelihood be just as content watching a film of her doing her grocery shopping for ninety minutes. Her svelte physique and captivating girl next door good looks are every bit as compelling as her introductory days of Twin Peaks or Boogie Nights. Her glamour is seemingly unrelenting as she appears not to age a solitary day from one production to the next.
Compulsion was originally set for production in 2009 starring Marisa Tomei as Amy and Liv Tyler to adapt the character of Saffron. Although this would be an interesting ensemble, I’m as equally content casting had ensued the way it had. Graham and Moss have a certain immeasurable chemistry in all likelihood developed after co-starring in Toughguy in 1995.
Compulsion is scheduled for release August 13.
-Three and a half tombstones out of five