The Guilty (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Denmark import, and Oscar contender, The Guilty is intense, harrowing, and a suspense/thriller which keeps you guessing to the very end.
Hey Oscar voters and critics groups: His name is Jakob (with a “k”) Cedergren, and you need to know this because he gives one of 2018’s best performances.
For those who like suspense, and like seeing stories told in unique and clever ways, The Guilty is simply terrific.
The Guilty does have some intense subject matter and if you are sensitive to children being emotional, this might be a triggering experience for you.
As something of a cinematic chamber play, less discerning audiences may be wondering what the heck the point of all of this happens to be.
The Guilty has a near-perfect 98% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing. The one negative review complains about the fact that the film is set entirely in a police station. So, I guess if you don’t like that idea, Venom probably starts near you in the next half-hour or so.
There is a moment in The Guilty, where, in a perfect world, Jakob Cedergren should win the Academy Award for Best Actor.
As a suspended police officer, serving as a temporary Emergency Services dispatcher while awaiting an acquittal on a wrongful death case, Cedergren’s character, Asger Holm, realizes he has gotten something very, very wrong. So wrong in fact, he cannot help but sit, in stunned silence, as his mind seemingly wanders beyond his existing situation, focusing on what can only be a lifetime’s worth of regrets, mistakes, and errors in his life. With a caller waiting in silence on the line, we are left to wonder if Asger’s life is passing right before his very own eyes.
To spoil that moment any further, or divulge what causes Asger to become almost paralyzed and look defeated, robs you of one of the most pivotal moments in Gustav Möller’s searing new thriller. Selected to represent Denmark for the upcoming 91st Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category, The Guilty is one of the more stunning movie experiences of 2018; unpredictable, jaw-dropping, and mesmerizing.
Asger is ending a shift on the phones when a tearful cry for help comes in. Going through his protocols, he quickly learns that the woman on the phone, Iben (Jessica Dinnage) is being driven, against her will, by her husband Michael (Johan Olsen).
Having Iben pretend she is talking with the couple’s six-year-old daughter Mathilde (Katinka Evers-Jahnsen), he learns that she fears for her life, Michael is deranged, and she has a young infant at home named Oliver. Anxious and committed to helping her, Asger contacts local police outlets and investigators, attempting to locate the vehicle, end the threat, and return Iben and her children to safety.
Möller leaves us with Asger for the entire film. Calling to mind Tom Hardy’s performance in Locke, Cedergren’s performance is among the finest of the year. We hang on his every word and watch him painfully extract every discovery and new detail from those he is speaking with in phone call after phone call.
Subplots creep into the mix. Asger’s anticipation of being exonerated hinges on the testimony of friend and colleague Rashid (Omar Shargawi). He is ordered to go home and spend time with his wife at the end of his shift, then castigated for staying late. He retreats into a separate office to continue his efforts on the phone with Iben, hinting at isolation and separation from those around him. Cedergren’s brilliant performance largely emanates from sitting in a chair, rapidly working through a series of continual phone calls and almost impulsive decision-making.
Möller co-wrote the script with Emil Nygaard Albertsen and offers many twists and turns along the way. Secrets are revealed, shocking revelations are brought to light, and connections, in the most improbable of circumstances, are born. Structured tight and exceedingly well, the seamless editing by Carla Luffe never lets us relax, much less take a breath.
There are moments where The Guilty spins its wheels, a few melodramatic flourishes and repetitive beats hint at the film stretching to fill an otherwise brisk 88 minutes. However, when the movie clicks, it finds an intoxicating rhythm, with Möller and a brilliant performance by Cedergren building a suspenseful, compelling story we cannot help but become invested in.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Jakob Cedergren, Jacob Hauberg Lohmann.
Featuring the Voices of: Jessica Dinnage, Johan Olsen, Omar Shargawi, Katinka Evers-Jahsen.
Director: Gustav Möller
Written by: Gustav Möller, Emil Nygaard Albertsen
Release Date: October 19, 2018