The Guilty, or Den skyldige in its original Danish language, is Gustav Moller’s thrilling single-location directorial debut. Told through a series of phone-calls you hope you never have to answer, The Guilty is an air-tight experience of suspense that dares you to exhale.
The film traps you in a seemingly-shrinking box of an office, where we are introduced to Asger Holm, an emergency service responder. Reluctantly assigned to call-forwarding desk duties, Asger is just about to wrap up a never-ending, late-night shift, when he receives a call he can’t ignore.
“Hello Sweetheart.” An unfamiliar voice.
One we soon learn belongs to Iben, a woman who has been abducted by her ex-boyfriend, who suspiciously believes she is on the phone to her children. From the moment we hear her utter those trembling first words, Asger must carefully and subtly direct the mother of two to safety, all from the confined space of his small office cubicle.
Despite its limitations, the film manages to hijack your attention and torture your curiosity
with heroically accurate close-ups, pin-drop use of sound, and the careful placement of dialogue thatprovides story-altering context without the thought of using a flashback sequenceAnd with a runtime of only 85 minutes, The Guilty still takes the time to plant crucial seeds that we can’t help but watch grow.
However, the film develops a lurking sense of inevitability – a seemingly uncomplicated ride from A to B. But audiences should know better than to believe that such a film could possibly go without a bump in the road.
So when the film ultimately decides to take its plot a step further, I didn’t quite take that sharp intake of breath the film clearly strives forThis isn’t to its detriment, just the pessimist inside of me knows that when something’s going too obviously one way t, it’s about to take a sharp left turn.
The Guilty still proves the power of a strong script and a talented lead actor.
Jakob Cedegren (Asger) brings a boiling intensity and baffling sense of stoicism, reminiscent of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki in the bone-rattling thriller, Prisoners.
It only made sense that Gyllenhaal is rumoured to play this character in the inescapable English-language remake.
The Guilty is an immediately-arresting struggle that forces you to the edge of your seat with every piece of new, pulsating information.
A raw embodiment of a racing heart that never slows down.
Words by Liam Docherty