Compulsion (2013)

 

Amy (Heather Graham) cooks up a delicious meal for her ‘TV audience’. Her next dish however may be slightly less palatable…

This is based on a 1995 South Korean film 301,302. I haven’t seen the original but remembering The Ring, Dinner Le Cons and Old Boy made me immediately worried that I was watching the inferior version. Western film companies like to remake good foreign films with their own actors and at best render them less great. But at worst, they can be terrible (Dinner For Schmucks).

Anyway…Heather Graham is very impressive here as Amy, the obsessive, sociopath, needy wannabe chef in room 301. Her neighbour (in room 302), a famous actress Saffron (Carrie Anne Moss) soon becomes the focus of her attentions, and it’s not long before Saffron is receiving a daily knock at the door along with a dish of freshly cooked food. After Heather splits with her partner this obsession with her neighbour grows. Saffron’s vulnerability and need to be loved means her initial rejections of Amy soon turn to acceptance, and eventually, rather worryingly to complete trust.

I’m not sure if this is based on a play as well as a film but it has that feeling to it – it uses relatively few locations – and you can imagine Amy’s TV sections (where she pretends to have her own cooking show) working perfectly in a play. Here she is brightly spot-lit and audience sounds are played in. Possibly because of it’s original source being foreign, there is a odd feel to the story and character interactions (which probably would seem completely normal in it’s original Korean setting) which can make it feel a little strange at times. The acting is good however, and since the bare bones story requires a deep emotional study of both characters to help flesh the movie out – it needs to be. The overall story though needs to be a lot stronger – I wanted the final scenes to fit in better with what went before and to seem more dramatic – to make you feel the rest of the film was worth sitting through. It’s not… quite, which is a shame. An interesting movie however and also one that could have been a lot better. Refreshing though. 5/10

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