The Guilty is an intense and absolutely brilliant Danish thriller (original title Den Skyldige). A multiple audience award-winner you should not miss. It will leave you breathless!
During the runtime of 85 minutes, a Danish 911 dispatcher (or rather the Danish equivalent) is working by – and with – a phone and computer.
It is one hell of an intense ride, where you will be creating the images in your own head. But please believe me when I say this; When the end credits come, you almost won’t be able to believe that you never saw anything outside the alarm dispatch office.
You can watch the trailer for The Guilty right here or continue reading our review below.
Jacob Cedergren as the master narrator
Since everything in The Guilty is told from the ears and eyes of one dispatcher, Asger Holm, the actor portraying him essentially becomes the narrator. Not in the sense that he’s actually narrating the movie, but he becomes the storyteller.
It really is no different than having someone tell you a story around the campfire or reading out loud to you. Well, except for the fact that you do see the actor reacting to everything happening.
For this purpose, actor Jacob Cedergren is absolutely perfect!
I cannot imagine anyone being a better choice than Jacob Cedergren. I’ve always “just” liked him as an actor, but now I must admit I absolutely adore him. He has completely won me over with the work he does in The Guilty.
Also, he isn’t exactly likable at first. He is a police officer on suspension while awaiting a trial, so he does not want to be a 911 dispatcher. He wants to be out on the street, helping people. Not simply forwarding cries for help.
And he has zero tolerance for stupidity!
Long and intense takes
There are mostly extremely long takes, which you may not notice at first, but it helps the very organic and natural flow of the story. Also, Jacob Cedergren only gets to interact with people over the phone.
This means Jacob Cedergren has to set the tone for every scene while also interacting with various other people in a believable manner. Whether he’s talking to a child, a drunk person or someone who has been kidnapped, we need to believe he’s just at work and waiting for the day to be over with.
And the intensity of these long takes is both a challenge and a blessing for the actor. He can certainly pull it off and the film is so much better for it. No need for violent cuts and crazy editing to keep the action and thrills going. The story and actor are perfectly handled by the director.
The Guilty has distribution for 90 countries!
This is one of the strongest feature film debuts, I can remember having seen, from a director. This “one actor in one location” niche isn’t exactly an easy feat, but director Gustav Möller absolutely nails it.
Do yourself a big favor and make sure you don’t get spoiled. The story evolves in many ways before the final shot and at least some of them should catch you by surprise.
Also, even if you don’t like “reading a movie”, The Guilty is storytelling in the most basic way. This is more like reading a book and creating images in your own head, so for once, you won’t miss anything by reading the subtitles.
Trust me, The Guilty will leave you breathless more than once. A remake in English could most definitely be in our future.
The Guilty is still playing at film festivals worldwide while also being released in theaters.
Director: Gustav Möller
Writers: Emil Nygaard Albertsen, Gustav Möller
Cast: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi, Jeanette Lindbæk, Jacob Lohmann, Johan Olsen, Laura Bro, Morten Suurballe
Alarm dispatcher and suspended police officer, Asger Holm, answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman and her kidnapper intensifies. With the phone and a computer as his only tools, Asger enters a race against time to save the woman. However, he soon comes to realize that the crime he is dealing with is far bigger than he initially thought.