Less Is So Much More: Our Review of ‘The Guilty’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload by - October 19, 2018
Less Is So Much More: Our Review of ‘The Guilty’

Lives can change with a simple phone call…

The Guilty rides on a simple premise and an even simpler set up but it is executed so immaculately well that it ends up being one of the best movies of the entire calendar year.

When police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) is demoted to desk work, he’s not happy but he expects a quiet and uneventful shift as an emergency dispatcher. However, that all changes when he answers a panicked phone call from a kidnapped woman; as he frantically works to get her the help she needs, they are unexpectedly disconnected.  Asger, confined to the police station, is forced to use others as his eyes and ears as the severity of the situation only gets worse but as he learns more about this current situation, he uncovers that not everything is exactly as it seems…

A first time feature effort from writer/director Gustav Möller; The Guilty is a damn near masterstroke in simplicity that keeps us on the edge of our seats while never actually going anywhere.

Only ever having done a short film and a couple of TV episodes,   Möller has a masterful command of the camera making even the most minimalist of surroundings completely tense and engaging.  The narrative moves at a brisk pace with our hero as we basically hang on every word and clue to why he’s at this desk in the first place unfurl before our eyes.  With simple lighting cues and shooting him at various angles we get roped into this very tense situation and along with a script that very carefully unfurls various nuggets of the story taking us further down the simple yet beautifully complex rabbit hole that our protagonist is about to go down.

Sure there’s the voices of a couple of other people and a handful of other actors who come into frame on occasion but it’s our star Jakob Cedergren who carries it all here.  As Asger, we see an everyman come into frame.  He’s maybe a little too self confidence or even arrogant thinking that the emergency desk is beneath him as a member of law enforcement but his training and good instincts immediately take over as he slowly ramps up to a fevered pitch to try and save the day and do the right thing while chained to his desk.  It all makes for a fantastic turn that is dripping in pure tension, nothing shocking or overwhelming but before we even realize it we engulfed in human drama which Cedergren sells like a champ and was easily up to the challenge of it all.

It’s no wonder there’s Oscar buzz around The Guilty for Denmark as this is a powerful and very self assured directorial debut that is bound to get noticed all across the globe.  We can wait to see what Gustav Möller gets up to next because this film marks the arrival of a major talent.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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