Wednesday, November 4, 2015

[Review] Experimenter

Oh, humans...

Based on true events, Experimenter profiles a strange social experiment that psychologist Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) conducted at Yale in 1961. I won't go too far into explaining the exact details (the exposition in the film will do that), but it's an obedience test involving two people in separate rooms, one of which sends a painful electric shock to the other person upon command.

Set within drab gray interior, it's all a study of empathy, obscured morals, and inhumanity. Milgram's project was provoked by the events of Nazi Germany and the implementation of genocide. The twist here--this isn't a spoiler because it's revealed at the beginning--is that the receiver actually isn't getting shocked (just pretending to be). So, Milgram wanted to get to the bottom of just why and how easily people can be manipulated into obeying orders that involve harming other people against will.

Peter Sarsgarrd is perfectly cast. John Leguizamo and Jim Gaffigan also show up, so some subtle humor sneaks in, exploiting the confounding nature of it all. It's certainly interesting stuff, and it's probably riveting for researchers of the human psyche, but Experimenter is most likely a little too dense and repetitive for average filmgoers. So if this sparks your intrigue, do check it out. If not, there is a strong triple threat of The Martian, Bridge of Spies, and Steve Jobs in theaters right now.


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