JEANNE'S REVIEW

 

Swedish director Gustav Möller got the idea for his film, THE GUILTY, which he co-wrote with Emil Nygaard Albertsen, while listening to a real-life 9-1-1 call from a kidnapped woman. He has posited that "strongest images in film, the ones that stay with you the longest; they are the ones you don't see."

 

The entire movie THE GUILTY takes place within an emergency call center in Copenhagen. Police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) has been assigned desk duty at the center until his upcoming court case goes to trial. We don't learn until the end of THE GUILTY why Asger is going to court, but no matter.

 

He receives a call from a panicked woman who seems to be talking to a child. Asger quickly deduces that she has been kidnapped and is trying to throw off her abductor. He begins to ask Iben (voiced by Jessica Dinnage) a series of questions, instructing her to answer only yes or no. Her agitation reveals a much bigger problem --- one that could possibly change the course of life for all involved.

 

THE GUILTY is a truly powerful one-man film. Other than a few brief interactions with a couple of co-workers, the entire focus of THE GUILTY is on Asger and his handling of this dire situation. Cedergren's performance is paramount to the success of Möller's execution of this story and he delivers an unbelievably real and intense interpretation of the seriousness of the job.

 

I found it fascinating to watch Cedergren. Every facial expression or nervous tic exacerbates our own feelings of helplessness, frustration and fear for Iben's predicament. It's an understated portrayal, yet vividly riveting. Möller must be pleased.

 

Opinion:  See It Now!

 

DAVID'S REVIEW

 

Asger Holm is a police emergency dispatcher who finds redemption by handling one particularly serious call from a distraught woman. In the process he also unburdens himself of a long held secret. That sums up the plot of this Danish thriller called THE GUILTY.

 

The entire movie takes place in two rooms at a police call center in  Copenhagen. A single camera is used --- no cinematographer, no large crew --- just a single actor (Jakob Cedergren) talking into his head set. We hear voices at the other end, primarily that of a woman named Iben (Jessica Dinnage). She's a mother who is apparently abducted by her husband, Michael, leaving two small children home alone. There are a few lines of dialogue spoken by other cast members, innocuous lines like Asger being reprimanded by his boss for taking personal phone calls.

 

This unique Danish film, winner of the Audience Choice Award at Sundance this year, manages to keep us involved from the beginning. Earlier calls to the dispatcher are comically unimportant, like the man who complains he was robbed by a prostitute. But the tone changes dramatically when a woman, clearly in distress, calls with a major dilemma.

 

The dialogue in THE GUILTY is well conceived. The film also has a few surprises in store. What we see in his reactions and hear through his headset is the only reality we have to rely on, but can we believe it? The prolific Danish actor Cedergren must perform flawlessly to make this work --- and he does.

 

Opinion:  See It Now!