The Guilty (Den skyldige) (2018)

Set in a downbeat, dark emergency call centre, The Guilty is a Danish thriller directed by Gustav Möller that takes place in claustrophobic real time, centred on a single character.

Duty Calls

by Alexa Dalby

The Guilty

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is a police officer reluctantly placed on phone duty to take 999 calls – we don’t at first know why. It seems he’d rather be out in the field – he’s frustrated and irritated with the first few callers we hear – until he answers a call from a woman who is trying to tell him she’s been kidnapped and that she’s in a car with her kidnapper, who is driving her who knows where.

All Asger’s police instincts snap into place as he goes above and beyond procedure when he becomes involved with what is taking place on the other end of the call. The camera is on his face, in close up, as he’s at his desk, on the phone for almost the entire film. Cedergren is superb as the tension mounts unflaggingly throughout the film as we are drip fed information.

Asger uses all the technology at police disposal to trace the victim, Iben (Jessica Dinnage), and her family, and to get police patrol cars to intercept the van she’s in. All we hear is her voice on the phone to Asger with snippets of her story. Phone contact comes and goes.

The Guilty is a dark Scandi-noir, an amazingly gripping race against the clock. But the title is double-edged and the film is deeper and more complex than it at first appears. Who actually is guilty in this nerve-wracking scenario as it unfolds? The suspense is killing.

The Guilty premiered at Sundance, screened at the BFI London Film Festival and is released on 26 October 2018 in the UK.

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