RELEASED: 26th October 2018
DIRECTOR: Gustav Möller
CAST: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi, Johan Olsen, Katinka Evers-Jahnsen and Jacob Lohmann
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $4.6m
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 realises that he is dealing with a crime that is far bigger than he first thought.
Danish crime-thriller The Guilty (aka Den skyldige) marked the directorial feature debut of Gustav Möller, who had only previously directed one short before this (I mørke) focusing on Asger Holm, a Copenhagen police officer whose starting his shift as alarm dispatcher as he awaits his hearing the next day, which we’ve yet to discover what the hearing is about. After a few calls, he receives a call that’s clear to him is from someone under duress, leading him to find out through a series of questions set up for yes or no answers, that she’s been abducted and Asger now races against the clock to save the kidnapped woman. I caught The Guilty during its screening at the Foyle Film Festival in 2018 and having the film take place in a single location actually makes this hour and twenty-five minute film a thrilling experience once we get to the call that changes Asger’s night. From the initial calls that he takes beforehand, we see Asger is quick to make judgements from assumptions from those contacting emergency dispatchers, such as being unsympathetic to one callers plight because he took drugs, and the other he laughs at his misfortune for being robbed by a prostitute. But when he gets the call from Iben Østergård however, his actions goes beyond the duty of a dispatcher as everyone questions what he’s doing as he tries to save the day. The film rests entirely on the shoulders of Jakob Cedergren as he’s 100% the focus on screen and I thought gave an excellent performance and he had me completely captivated with what was unfolding on screen. The sound design in the film is terrific as well, not just from the distortion noise that comes from calls, but also background noise of traffic and window wipers on cars etc. The cinematography from Jasper Spanning is well done here, as he compliments Gustav Möller’s direction, which is also really good. I really love this film that even I am unsure about the American remake, whether it’s still in development or not as Jake Gyllenhaal’s Nine Stories acquired the rights to it in 2018. Time will tell.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Using a separate room now as nightshift arrives, Asger speaks with the police that arrive at the Østergård house to see how Iben’s children, Mathilde and Oliver, are doing. The buildup of this scene, and Cedergren’s expressions throughout it, is what made it standout from the rest.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “I did because I had enough and I wanted to remove something. I don’t know…something bad. Something…
Was it snakes?
Yes, it was snakes.” – Asger Holm and Iben Østergård
DID YOU KNOW: The director, producer, cinematographer and the editor all knew each other and graduated from the National Film School of Denmark.