Experimenter Film Review

Film Review by Cam Eagle

The Premise
Experimenter is based on the true story of famed social psychologist Stanley Milgram, who in 1961 conducted a series of radical behaviour experiments that tested ordinary human’s willingness to obey by using electric shock. We follow Milgram, from meeting his wife Sasha through his controversial experiments that sparked public outcry.

The Review
This biopic about the life of Stanley Milgram and his obedience experiments is an interesting while disturbing look at human nature. I was disturbed by the results of the overarching experiment, and what those results say about people, human nature, and also made me question myself; what would I have done in the experiment? 

The Experimenter, Stanley Milgram, carried out a number of experiments in the 1960s and 70s which predominately pointed to people’s biases, and especially their response to authority when asked to inflict pain, do the unthinkable.

Stanley Milgram tells his own story, narrating and talking to the camera frequently, making this movie feel like a documentary. The setting of the film also feels like a documentary rather than a big budget movie. The use of green screen (simplified backgrounds with muted colours) made you feel closer to the experiments in a cold, stark way. There is also a sense that Stanley Milgram is seducing you into his artificial reality or illusion.

Convincing as Milgram, Peter Sarsgaard is attacked by some due to the experiment relying on an element of deception to work.

Taryn Manning (Mrs Lowe) is one of Milgram’s unremarkable subjects, while it was a joy to watch Winona Ryder as Sasha Menkin Milgram, Stanley’s wife.

While I found “Experimenter” thought provoking, I found the movie as a whole left me hungry for more meat in the sandwich, and I thought the same for the cinematography.

The Verdict
Experimenter taught me something I didn’t know and something I wouldn’t normally seek to know. Fascinating, unsettling and burdensome, Stanley Milgram and “Experimenter” felt somewhat laboured.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 19th November 2015
Rating: M – Contains offensive language
Duration: 98 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Peter Sarsgaard, Taryn Manning, Winona Ryder, Kellan Lutz, Anton Yelchin, John Leguizamo, Dennis Haysbert, Jim Gaffigan, Lori Singer
Director: Michael Almereyda (New Orleans Mon Amour, Hamlet)