500 Days Of Film Reviews The Guilty Starring Jakob Cedergren
When police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) is demoted to deskwork, he expects a sleepy beat as an emergency dispatcher. That all changes when he answers a panicked phone call from a kidnapped woman who then, abruptly, disconnects.
Confined to the police station, Asger is forced to use other people as his eyes and ears as the severity of the crime slowly becomes clear. The search to find the missing woman and her assailant will take every bit of his intuition and skill, as a ticking clock and his own personal demons conspire against him.
Is It Any Good?
The Guilty is a masterclass in economical filmmaking. Using one location and focusing on one man, Gustav Möller has created an extremely tense thriller that explores our relationship with and assumptions about guilt.
A few years ago, I watched a film starring Halle Berry that also began with an emergency services call operator. While 2013’s The Call certainly had potential, it lacked conviction in the power of its setting. The end result was a pretty ridiculous final act.
Thankfully, Möller is steadfast in his belief in a single location. As a result, we witness the striking juxtaposition between the sterile police station that we see and the dramatic events that we hear on the telephone.
The end result? What we don’t see is far more powerful than any image.
In addition, throughout The Guilty’s 85 minute running time, Möller maintains confidence in his lead actor, the superb Jakob Cedergren.
There were moments in the film where I was reminded of audio dramas and podcasts. However, Cedergren ensures that our eyes remain glued to the screen. It is really quite incredible how he can make the simple act of talking on a telephone (via a headset) so full of intrigue and suspense.
Möller got the idea for The Guilty after coming across a real life emergency call from a kidnapped woman. “At first I was just gripped by the suspense of the call, as any listener would,” the director recalls. “But then I started reflecting on what made it so intriguing.”
“Even though I had just listened to a sound recording it felt like I had seen images,” Möller explains. “I had seen the woman, the car she was in, the road the car was on and even the kidnapper sitting next to her. I realized that every single person listening to that phone call would see different images: a different woman, a different kidnapper and so on. I started thinking: What if you used this idea of mental imagery, in film?”
In this way, The Guilty becomes a different film experience for each viewer. However, one thing will undoubtedly remain the same regardless of the audience. The Guilty - a powerful and gripping thriller with a brilliant central performance - is absolutely worth a watch.
Have you seen The Guilty? If you have, what did you think of Gustav Möller’s film?
Let me know in the comments section below or over on Twitter. You can find me @500DaysOfFilm.