Compulsion: Thriller or Satire?

In this very talky, action-free thriller — a remake of a 1995 South Korean film — Amy (Heather Graham), a wannabe master chef, uses food to insinuate herself into the life of her neighbor, Saffron (Carrie-Anne Moss), a deeply depressed former child star. Amy is living in a fantasy world in which her kitchen is the set of a TV cooking show. When her boyfriend (Kevin Dillon) dumps her, Amy, who simply must cook, shifts her attentions to Saffron, a bulimic who wants nothing to do with Amy's culinary offerings. The game of wills that ensues between the two women isn't terribly interesting, much less suspenseful, and in fact, it's not clear that director Egidio Coccimiglio and screenwriter Floyd Byars ever settled on whether they were making a thriller or a satire about food and celebrity. The ever-vibrant Graham has fun with Amy's slyly embittered patter to her imaginary TV audience, while Moss valiantly commits herself to Saffron's psychological pain. Compulsion was photographed by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter), whose glory days appear to be behind him, though the man remains a master of light. If only he were illuminating a more compelling tale.


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