Starring: Heather Graham, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kevin Dillon
Director: Egidio Coccimiglio
Running Time: 88 mins
Compulsion is a Canadian film about a woman obsessed with cooking whose life soon intersects with a troubled actress next door.
For a film that doesn’t have the best screenplay or production, Compulsion isn’t quite as bad as you might first expect. Though it’s ultimately a fairly messy story, it’s a striking and bold psychothriller at its best. Those moments are quite few and far between, but the film still has a darkly fun-loving energy that makes it watchable throughout.
Billed as a dark comedy, Compulsion doesn’t really provide the dark laughs you might be looking for. Likewise, though it does occasionally manage it, the psychological insight of its screenplay is far from a revelation.
In that, the film is a little bit of an underwhelming watch when looking at its potential. It doesn’t have the intense or sleek atmosphere to make a devilishly exciting psychothriller all the way through, and nor does it have the mind-bending dramatic twists to really keep you on your toes.
What’s more is that the production here feels a lot like a TV movie. It’s not a badly-made film by any means, but it seems that a lot of the budget went into landing two A-listers in Heather Graham and Carrie-Anne Moss, and not so much on the set design and camerawork.
The small-scale setting of an apartment block has enormous potential to deliver excitement on the level of Rear Window, but Compulsion squanders that chance by keeping its two characters (who are meant to be ever-more intertwined) rather separate throughout.
And that’s another big problem with the film’s story. Though the final act does offer up some gripping drama as we begin to understand the individual tragedies of each of the women’s lives – one desperate to please others and the other shaken by a troubled past – it doesn’t manage to link their tales together particularly effectively.
Compulsion tries to thrill you with a couple of big twists at the very end, but neither really makes that much sense, coming off more as a tacked-on epilogue that has little to do with what came before. The very last twist in particular is random, unnecessary, and undermines what was at times a surprisingly heartfelt story.
The movie does have a capacity to tap into more engrossing emotional themes at times, but it’s a shame that it fails to bring that depth into play more effectively. Compulsion is a bold film, and it’s nowhere near as bad as you might at first expect, but in the end it’s a rather underwhelming and messy watch, which is why I’m giving it a 6.5 overall.