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COMPULSION: FOR THE LOVE OF BATHROOM TECHNOLOGY

There’s a tendency by many of us to go to extremes, even when they don’t seem so to us. Working too little indicates lack of motivation while working too much robs one of a personal life. Being too accommodating in a relationship with another person makes you a pushover but using a surrogate for these makes you…well, perhaps somewhat odd. These exact circumstances are what writers Paul Nash &Robert Skelhorn, along with director/producer Ryan Davey wanted to explore in the dark comedy film Compulsion. The greatest demand was finding someone to fill the main character Felix. To the great benefit of these professionals and the film, they found perfection in Josh Kieser. The actor’s ability to infuse humor into a depressed character led to awards for both himself and the film in the industry.


Felix is a workaholic. He wants to move up the corporate ladder and he is making the sacrifices that are required in doing so. He doesn’t have much of a life outside of work, largely due to the fact that he is always at work, and his girlfriend is not exactly “on board” with the situation. It’s an existence that is not uncommon in the business world. While working late one night, Felix stumbles upon the managerial bathroom where he encounters the JX2000, a pristine slice of far eastern technology…a Japanese toilet. Its seductive female voice entrances him like the sirens of the Odyssey and he can think of nothing else. So begins the tragic story of a broken man and the toilet which has spurned him. With no respite from an uncomfortable home and office life, the JX2000 becomes an island oasis for him in spite of any reciprocation. In fact, the JX2000 is the only entity in Felix’s life that seems to have an interactive relationship of any kind.

The premise is ridiculous of course, which is exactly what makes it so enjoyable. As the sole human being for the majority of the film, Josh Kieser delivers all of the broken humanity and “puppy dog” sweetness that is part of any great love story…even that of a man and a toilet. The added wrinkle of a Romeo & Juliet social mismatch (due to the JX2000’s managerial toilet status) serves to make the storyline all the more exaggerated and thus amusing. The role culminated in a deluge of awards and nominations for Josh in this quirky and comedically depressed role. In addition to a Best Acting Debut Award from October Monthly, these included a win for Outstanding Achievement at the Berlin Flash Film Festival and Best Comedy at the Oniros Film Awards in Italy.


Josh worked closely with director Ryan Davey on this film, more so than typical for most actors. Ryan Davey also appeared as the voice of the JX2000 in Compulsion. It made for an interesting relationship as Kieser describes, “Ryan is a very interesting guy! It truly was a lot of fun working with him on how to present Felix. We discussed the way to tap into seriously deeply emotional stuff but presenting it in a comedic way. It was a very conscious decision to balance the comedy and drama. This of course became very surreal when I became Felix and was falling in love with a toilet whose lovely female voice was supplied by the same male director I’d been working with. It was the ideal combination but it was very odd, which made it even more enjoyable for me. I love films which are somewhat odd like this. You laugh and yet find a way to think about something in your own life that might need some oversight.”

Author: Kelly King
COMPULSION: FOR THE LOVE OF BATHROOM TECHNOLOGY Reviewed by JaamZIN on 7:30:00 PM Rating: 5
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