Mole: Experimenter starts off taut. It’s the early 60s and subjects are dutifully taking part in Stanley Milgram’s controversial obedience experiment. From behind a two-way mirror, Milgram watches the teacher subject shock the student subject when an incorrect answer is given. Milgram is coolly detached until he confronts his teacher subject about shocking a subject who is clearly in pain. It’s a great dramatic opener and this experiment is a great window into Milgram’s troubled psyche. However, rather than stay with the obedience experiment, the film just goes docudrama and follows Milgram through courtship, marriage, teaching and other experiments. You keep waiting for something as exciting as the opening scenes to grip you again, but there’s nothing. BUT, Peter Sarsgaard gives such a compelling performance as Milgram that I found myself liking the film despite its many missteps (the bizarre story structure, the theatrical conceits, the poorly written wife role). How Sarsgaard makes a humourless and extremely measured man so watchable and engaging – in a movie with no real climax – is remarkable.
Ratty: I think I’d rather have seen a movie called “The Experiment”. Milgram’s experiments on obedience to authority figures were clearly revolutionary but the man himself was… well, kind of boring. This really should’ve been a documentary. There’s almost zero conflict, no stakes… it’s just buoyed by how fascinating the experiments are. Do not watch this movie. Read up on his work on Wikipedia or something but do not watch this movie. Obey. OBEY!
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