‘The Guilty’ Review: This Phone Call Absolutely Has Our Number

I mentioned on this month’s CinemAddicts about my absolute love for The Guilty, and a couple of weeks later this movie is still on my brain. Expect this movie, which many will compare to Locke, to be remade in the U.S. sometime down the road. But enough of that, if you don’t know a thing about The Guilty, please read on . . . 

 

Jakob Cedergren in THE GUILTY, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Asger Holm (a steely and brilliant Jakob Cedergren) is a police officer who’s relegated to answering phone calls as an emergency dispatcher for reasons that are initially unknown. His eagerness to finally end his shift is halted after he receives a distressed call from a woman who claims to be kidnapped. A man of action and principle, Asger is absolutely figuratively handcuffed to his desk, and he must rely on his colleagues to bring this missing woman to safety. 

The storytelling selling point of The Guilty is that although Asger has co-workers in the office, much of the tale is focused on his face and the fever pitch conversations he has over the phone. Though the close-up is a cinematic shot that was a go to move back during the golden age of filmmaking, that aesthetic is rarely employed to full effect these days; that is, of course, if your film isn’t named The Guilty.

With this technique we are able to see Jakob’s confidence and somewhat condescending attitude (he’s a bit insulting with another caller in need of help at a Red Light District) gradually recede as the tragedy of the woman’s situation envelops him. Asger’s just a small link to the chain that can help her to safety, and relying on other people to do his job on the field understandably shakes him to the core.

Giving out further plot details to The Guilty would be a sin, as it would immediately spoil the riveting story (the script is penned by director Gustav Möller and co-writer Emil Nygaard Albertson) that simply doesn’t let up during its tightly would 85-minute run.



Though the film is powered by Cedergren inspired performance, the picture’s unassuming (but focused) visual style and meticulous pacing are just as important to the story’s success. As much as I loved Tom Hardy’s work in Locke, The Guilty is the superior film thanks to the breadth of its story, and the narratives final moments absolutely, as I often say on CinemAddicts, sticks its landing. It’s a safe bet that The Guilty will be remade sometime down the road in the United States (the picture received the Audience Award in the World Cinema Category at the Sundance Film Festival).

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Guilty opens in select theaters October 19.