Experimenter

Yale University, 1961. Stanley Milgram designs a psychology experiment that still resonates to this day, in which people think they’re delivering painful electric shocks to an affable stranger strapped into a chair in another room. Despite his pleads for mercy, the majority of subjects don’t stop the experiment, administering what they think is a near-fatal electric shock, simply because they’ve been told to do so. With Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s trial airing in living rooms across America, Milgram strikes a nerve in popular culture and the scientific community with his exploration into people’s tendency to comply with authority. Celebrated in some circles, he is also accused of being a deceptive, manipulative monster, but his wife Sasha stands by him through it all.

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  • ★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd

    I would love to get violently stoned with Peter Sarsgaard.

  • ★★★★ review by Sean Gilman on Letterboxd

    "All you need to make a movie is Winona Ryder and an elephant." - Stanley Milgram

  • ★★★½ review by Scott Renshaw on Letterboxd

    That was an entertaining and informative movie!

    [You must say more.]

    But that's all I really have to say. I'm glad I saw it. It was good.

    [The format requires you to say more.]

    I won't. What if I cause harm to my #brand by just blathering when I've said all I needed to say?

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    WE ARE FINISHED HERE.

  • ★★★★ review by Matt Singer on Letterboxd

    What better way to dramatize the most famous electric shocks in the history of psychology than in a movie featuring all kinds of seemingly random moments of shock, like a lumbering elephant who wanders, unexplained, in the background of several scenes and obviously phony process shots. Provocative stuff, much of which is tied together in the final scenes about Stanley Milgrom’s philosophy than men are puppets who can be made conscious of their strings. EXPERIMENTER is almost a test to see if the same can be said of film audiences.

  • ★★★★½ review by Alex Engquist on Letterboxd

    "Your father's becoming a fictional character." Moments of spontaneous revelation emerging from within layers of artifice. Not a biopic but an essay film as much on the art(-ifice) of filmmaking as its named subject (see that arguably inaccurate, insistent subtitle). This aspect in and of itself isn't unique but Almereyda's layers here are thin and transparent enough to see the film's ideas through them. Those ideas have a conduit in Sarsgaard's performance, which is carefully understated but also insinuating, oddly sinister but melancholy. Like Milgram's electric shock device, it's convincing enough to get results.

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