The Guilty (Den skyldige)

Filmed entirely within an emergency call center, Danish director Gustav Möller's The Guilty (Den skyldige) is a claustrophobic thriller that finds fascinating ways to spiritually transcend its confines. Pretty much the whole film consists of phone exchanges between Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren), a police officer who has been temporarily demoted to working the phones, and others out in the field as he struggles to save a woman who is being abducted by her ex-husband. Möller handles that solid premise with artful suspense: Asger initially has to keep the tearful, terrified victim, Iben, on the phone as long as he can, telling her to pretend she's speaking to her young daughter on the other line. Meanwhile, he's barking orders to emergency dispatch, to the highway police.

Asger's job is merely to answer emergency calls and route them to the proper channels, but he can't help but secretly take charge of this investigation. He doesn't know precisely where Iben is; just that she and her abductor are in a white van heading north on a major highway. He also doesn't know the exact history between the woman and her ex; he's hoping that by snooping into their lives, he might be able to figure out their destination.

Despite the simple, drab setting, Möller makes this character's emotional journey a visual and sonic one as well. And The Guilty beautifully demonstrates how people can act with absolute conviction even when they don't have the full picture of a situation, and the monstrousness this can in turn lead to. And if that doesn't speak to our time, then I don't know what does.

Credits

Director:

  • Gustav Möller

Cast:

  • Jakob Cedergren
  • Jessica Dinnage
  • Omar Shargawi
  • Johan Olsen
  • Jakob Ulrik Lohmann

Writers:

  • Emil Nygaard Albertsen
  • Gustav Möller

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