Film Festival Movie Review

Film Review: The Guilty: Perspectivism and Law Enforcement Collide [CCFF 2018]

The Guilty Review

The Guilty (2018Film Review from the 6th Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival, a movie directed by Gustav Möller, starring Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, and Johan Olsen.

Perspective is everything. This the hard lesson learned by officer Asger Holm in the Danish film The Guilty. Starring Jakob Cedergren, the film is a harrowing look at a couple of hours in an emergency crisis phone center. Asger is normally on-patrol, but the day before he is has a hearing on an incident that he was involved in (which we learn more about and plays a big role towards the end of the film) he is working at a crisis center fielding emergency calls. Most calls are routine, with someone either being mugged, or getting a minor injured in a car accident and needing an ambulance.

One call comes in from a woman named Iben (voiced by Jessica Dinnage), who says she has been abducted by her husband Michael, and is trapped in a white van with him. Asger employs many clever tricks to have her only answer “yes or no” to his questions, and makes her act like she is speaking with her daughter the whole time. All the while, Asger has three others on the phone he is trying to coordinate with during this crisis. These include Iben’s daughter at home, his partner investigating Michael’s home for clues of where he may be headed, and a dispatch that is looking for the van Iben and Michael are in. I won’t go into any more details, as it would spoil the experience as the crisis unfolds.

One of the things that struck me was how unique the film was in its approach to the action. Instead of cutting away from the phone center, like a typical thriller would do, in this film you only hear bits and pieces of the action through the phone line (IE only what Asger hears). In this way, you are always in the same situation that he is in, trapped in his perspective. Asger is working with limited information, and has to make split second decisions that are not easy to make. The cinematography perfectly captures this isolation, framing all shots with a blurry background and only seeing Asger’s head.

The film is very silent, with no music and little background noise. This fittingly increases the tension of the situation, as we in the audience are desperately trying to hear little bits of information on the other end of the phone line, playing detective along with Asger. Much of the action unfolds in our and Asgers imagination, which sets the stage for some misdirection that pays off in a suspenseful climax that remains unpredictable until the very last call.

The Guilty is a fascinating study in perspectivism, a twist on the 911-thriller genre, an acting showcase for Jakob Cedergren, and is definitely worth a look once it arrives in theaters stateside.

Rating: 8.5/10

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About the author

Kyle Steininger

Born and raised in Chicago, Kyle has loved movies ever since his father took him to the theater to watch Home Alone. Since then, he has developed a passion for films and everything about them from watching endless DVD extras, interviews with cast/crew, and attending screenings of older films when available. Some of his favorite directors include Kubrick, Fellini, Scorsese, Tarantino, Leone, and Nolan.

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