Combustible Celluloid
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With: Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder, Dennis Haysbert, Jim Gaffigan, Taryn Manning, Kellan Lutz, John Leguizamo, Anton Yelchin, Anthony Edwards, Lori Singer, Edoardo Ballerini, Josh Hamilton, Vondie Curtis Hall
Written by: Michael Almereyda
Directed by: Michael Almereyda
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and brief strong language
Running Time: 98
Date: 10/16/2015

Experimenter (2015)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Shock Wise

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Filmmaker Michael Almereyda tells the story of psychologist Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard), who, in the 1960s, invented a startling experiment. Subjects are asked to read questions to another subject, and punish them with electric shocks when they answer wrong. It's quickly revealed that the person receiving the shocks is part of the experiment, and the real test is whether the subject will buck authority and stop administering the shocks. Amazingly, very few people did; they just kept on giving shocks, even though they knew it was wrong and their very physical reactions showed they were against it. They simply could not disrespect authority. Almereyda does a wonderful job of re-creating the period, and also uses many of his own experimental techniques, such as artificial sets and fourth wall-breaking, but eventually the movie wears thin. Milgram is shown in the years following his breakthrough experiment, defending it to people who disbelieve and trying new experiments that never reach its power. Many fascinating actors signed up for this, some appearing in tiny roles. Winona Ryder has a fairly big part as Milgram's wife, but doesn't get to do much.

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