Indie Gems: The Stanford Prison Experiment

They just wanted their $15, man.

in 1971, Dr. Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) wanted to study the psychology of men in a simulated prison environment at Standford University. He puts out an ad, he and his team interview 25+ students, and while they tell them they are given the roles of "prisoner" and "guard" by their interviews, they really just flipped a coin. 

Our prisoners, among others are Daniel, (Ezra Miller) Peter, (Tye Sheridan) Jim, (Jack Kilmer) and 416. (Thomas Mann) The guards  among others are John, (Keir Gilchrist) Anthony, (Moises Arias) Benedict Samuel, (Jacob) and Christopher. (Michael Angarano) Christopher in particular decides he's going to play a part of his own, adapting an accent from a character in Cool Hand Luke, he escalates his antagonism of the prisoners to the point where other guards follow suit, and some prisoners began to break. Dr. Zimbardo and his team don't stop what's happening at first with the desire to see it through.

This little film is remarkable. This is the first time the real life study has been made into a movie, though there's a few others whose stories were based off it. This one actually tells us what happened, with only a few creative liberties taken. It's fascinating to say the least, and also very surprising, at least to me. If you haven't read Zimbardo's analysis on this or seen the movie, I won't spoil where it goes, but it's not what I expected. I realized about an hour into this that I was actually leaning in towards my TV. Like I needed to study it more closely. 

There's so many wonderful actors in this film that have popped up in indies I've liked for awhile. Ezra Miller is probably my favorite young actor at this point, with Tye Sheridan following him. Michael Arangano is the star here though, and he makes you so uncomfortable as he keeps escalating things. 

It's hard not to get mad while you're watching this, but it's the good kind of infuriating. The one that makes you question everything and want to learn more about the real story. That's when you know a film based on a true story, has done its job right. 

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Is it just me, or are these guys taking this a bit too seriously?" - Peter (Tye Sheridan)



10 comments:

  1. I just watched this the other night as well (on Valentine's Day no less!). What a fantastic film, I'm glad you liked it! Ezra Miller is just so great, and Angarano was terrifying. It's too bad more people haven't seen this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! It's one of my favorites from last year. I hope more people see it now that it's on DVD.

      Delete
  2. I really want to see this. It looks so interesting. Plus, it has Olivia Thirlby who is part of my collective of favorite actress that I call into my own version of THE BULLET CLUB!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol I love Olivia too. Her part is small, but important.

      Delete
  3. I'm glad you liked this one too. I thought it was exceptionally well done and, as you pointed out, it has a great cast.

    I found it interesting that (according to an article I read) Zimbardo described the movie as accurate because, in my opinion, he came across as an asshole. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He came across as a total asshole. But I suppose it's better than him complaining that they made him too mean. He owned it.

      Delete
  4. I've been waiting for your review of this for ages now, since I saw it in your Must See 2015 list. I studied the experiment in College and found it fascinating, and disturbing. Really looking forward to watching this movie now.
    - Allie

    ReplyDelete
  5. I watched this recently, since it was one of your favorites, and it was great! Angarano deserved some notice during the awards season. His performance was electric. And the interview with his character during the credits made me appreciate him even more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you decided to watch it since you read about it here. :) I agree about Angarano. That interview really made him seem like a regular dude, and that was even scarier.

      Delete

No seriously, post one. I need attention.