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Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Well-acted, thought-provoking drama about role of authority.

Movie PG-13 2015 90 minutes
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Sarsgaard shines in this unconventional biopic of controversial psychologist Stanley Milgram. EXPERIMENTER will make audiences think, squirm, and wonder whether they would have had the strength to question authority in these famous experiments. As famous actors pop up on screen to play the teachers in Milgram's experiments (Anthony Edwards, John Leguizamo, Taryn Manning, etc.), it's clear that, despite discomfort, most people will do as they're told. But what if doing as you're told ends in someone else's pain? What if it's a direct order to hurt someone else?

Ryder and Sarsgaard have a believable chemistry, and Gaffigan is memorable as the learner who's supposedly being shocked in the experiments but is actually part of the staff. Milgram often breaks the fourth wall to discuss his life, put events in context, and even to complain. Sarsgaard's portrayal is compelling enough not to let this atypical narrative device fall flat or get cheesy. Talking to the camera genuinely works because Milgram is such a driven, interesting man with a fascinating reason to delve into the idea of obedience. His later coining of the "six degrees of separation" idea gets short shrift, but ultimately this is a finely acted and directed look at a scientist who changed the way we think about human behavior.

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