STARRING: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi, Johan Olsen, Katinka Evers-Jahnsen and Jacob Lohmann
A police officer assigned alarm dispatch duty enters a race against time when he answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman.
Alarm dispatcher Asger Holm answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins. With the phone as his only tool, Asger enters a race against time to save the endangered woman. But soon he realizes that he is dealing with a crime that is far bigger than he first thought.
The Guilty aka Den skyldige is a Danish thriller from director Gustav Möller, who co-wrote the screenplay with Emil Nygaard Albertsen. Taking place in a single location, a police station, we focus on police officer Asger Holm starting his afternoon shift. We learn that Asger has temporarily been relegated to emergency services dispatcher, with a hearing coming up tomorrow but we’re unaware as to why. As Asger takes multiple calls throughout the shift, he receives one that it’s clear from the callers tone that she’s under duress. Through a series of questions set up for yes or no answers, Asger learns that she’s been abducted and as he tries to gather more information the call ends. Asger now races against the clock to save the kidnapped woman.
It’s the little attentions to detail that make The Guilty a thrilling cinematic experience. We’ve seen single location features before, but what works so well to the films benefit is how it builds to the ultimate call that carries us through to the end credits. We see the type of calls Asger gets, know that he’s stressed about a hearing he has tomorrow but we’re not sure as to why and when he gets the call, Asger goes beyond the duty of a dispatcher to save the day that everyone he talks to in the meantime questions what he’s doing, even his boss. From the outset, we learn that Asger is in certain circles, a dick. Being the emergency services dispatcher, provider of life-saving circles, he’s quick to make judgements from assumptions which we witness through the first few calls he gets, from one he’s unsympathetic to his plight because he took drugs and the other he laughs at his misfortune of being robbed by a prostitute. The sound design for the film is terrific, with the cinematography also solid as it mostly works on close shots, adding to the tension within Asger’s confined work space. The film also highlights how easily we can make assumptions from the limited amount of information we receive and fill the rest of the gaps along the way as we mentally believed it to be the only logical conclusion. Jakob Cedergren is captivating as Asger Holm, he had me completely immersed in his characters journey and the voice cast are solid as well, especially Jessica Dinnage.
While I absolutely loved this film, one questions will it have as big an impacted on repeated viewing? I can’t wait to find out.
‘Less is more’ and Gustav Möller masterfully crafts that here in his directorial feature debut. Tension filled, with effective sound design and a terrific lead performance from Jakob Cedergren, The Guilty is one of my favourite films of the year. 9/10
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