In the Danish thriller THE GUILTY A gruesome crime takes place – it is negotiated in the confined space of the telephone operations center of a police station. This results in one of the most exciting and unconventional films of the year. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
Iben’s (Laura Bro) voice is very small and trembling on the phone. In fear of death, the young woman pretends to be on the phone with her daughter. Her kidnapper (Jakob Ulrik Lohmann) sits next to her in the car and is under no circumstances allowed to notice that she has called the police emergency number. There, Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren), who has been transferred to the operations center and is actually just counting the hours until he has to testify in court the next day, takes Iben’s call. He awakens all the police instincts in him. He wants to help her! Immediately! But all he has is his phone and no time to waste…
Movie explanation of the ending
Films that are limited to a single location have it easy and difficult at the same time. On the one hand, they are of course even more dependent on the premise on which they are based working – a boring chamber play quickly becomes twice as boring without any visual variety. On the other hand, if the starting point is right, concentrating on a single location can make the atmosphere and tension rise to immense heights – and “The Guilty” is exactly such a film. With his minimalist telephone thriller, which takes place solely in a police operations center, the Danish director Gustav Möller presents a film school graduation film whose narrative and directorial precision only gives an idea of what this filmmaker will probably deliver when once his craft has become routine. Gustav Möller knows exactly the strengths of the script he co-wrote and ensures that a mix of dramatic psychogram and kidnapping thriller unfolds on the screen, which also includes an accusatory comment about the working conditions in the (Danish) police . What sounds like a big, exuberant hodgepodge of all the topics that could be put into a film like this (you want to offer the audience something when they already get so little in terms of production) becomes, in Möller’s hands, one of the most exciting films of 2018 , in which the question of the eponymous guilt can be reformulated almost every minute.
Jakob Cedergren takes on the role of Ansger, who has to help a kidnapping victim on the phone.
The focus of “The Guilty” is the “Nordic Lights” star Jakob Cedergren, who can be seen in every scene of the very stringently told 85 minutes. Jasper Spanning’s camera (“The Family”) sticks so close to the 45-year-old Swede’s face from the first second that the viewer can’t help but assume the perspective of the police officer, about whom we only find out in fragments and throughout the entire film what is going on with him person and the reason why the former patrol officer was now forced to do telephone duty. Cedergren not only has to carry the difficult task of “The Guilty” completely on his shoulders (other supporting characters only appear in shadows on the sidelines or as voices on the telephone), but also to keep the viewer’s interest in him high. although this Asger is not the most likeable guy – on the contrary. The script depicts the officer, who is about to go to trial, as a man who over time becomes more and more self-sacrificing on the phone for the kidnap victim, but in the end the various facets of his character gradually reveal themselves, which only allow one conclusion: This man is quite beautiful fucked up! And it is solely thanks to the complex embodiment by Jakob Cedergren that this Asgar does not only take an asshole position, but that there are enough exciting hints hidden between the many hints of cynicism, polemic, self-pity and irascibility that automatically ensure that you want to know what’s going on with him and his figure.
But “The Guilty” is not just an ambivalent character study, but first and foremost a highly exciting thriller with a starting point reminiscent of “The Call”: In the film, released in 2013, Halle Berry is also linked to a kidnap victim and is forced to serve her alone to give instructions over the phone to help her escape or rescue. However, Gustav Möller leaves out a crucial element in his production: instead of repeatedly cutting back and forth between Halle Berry and the kidnapped Abigail Breslin, the viewer in “The Guilty” completely assumes the position of Asger Holm – and that also means that he can only hear everything that is happening on the other side of the line. The fact that the film almost becomes a radio play at times is, along with the sophisticated story, one of its greatest strengths. What we don’t see, we have to imagine in our heads. And this results in far more intense images than a film could probably ever visualize. Nevertheless, Gustav Möller always thinks cinematically: the tracking shots, the intense soundtrack and the very deliberately chosen perspectives ensure that we don’t get the impression that we are just watching filmed theater. “The Guilty” looks incredibly elegant at the same time and on top of that, Jasper tension manages to make optimal use of the narrowness within the headquarters and at the same time emphasize the oppression that arises from it. Nevertheless, the thriller ultimately stands and falls primarily on its story.
Ansger despairs of the difficult task of helping Iben.
At first glance, the story of “The Guilty” is at least as reduced as the production: a police officer only has to try to help a kidnapping victim over the telephone. At first glance, that sounds like a pretty straightforward matter. But over time, the big emotional punch develops not through Ansger’s desperate attempts to find the kidnapping vehicle, for which he calls various departments within the police and sometimes makes decisions that ignore the law. The atmosphere becomes doubly and tripled when the police officer finally has to deal with his own demons. Gustav Möller’s approach is anything but cerebral. The mere fact that the mission brings Ansger’s spirit back to life and that he is obliged to put aside the habits that have arisen from the daily grind in order to help the victim Iben individually and also provide emotional support to the frightened woman, means that he is equally compelled to deal with everything that previously extinguished those very spirits of life. In this way, the victim reflects her (potential) savior in many places. The director and author skillfully avoids the danger that this would result in constructed symbolism; At the end, Möller also presents us with one or two twists that continuously maintain the suspense and ensure that you don’t have to worry about two or three inconsistencies in detail. A man on the phone, the victim on the other end and the hope of redemption between them: “The Guilty” keeps the adrenaline at an impressive level for 85 minutes!
Conclusion: The Danish thriller “The Guilty” is simple despite its means the Genre insider tip of the year and one of the most exciting films 2018 has to offer.
“The Guilty” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from October 18th.