The Guilty (Den Skyldige)

The Guilty (Den Skyldige)

(Den skyldige)

Set entirely within an emergency services phone operating centre, Jakob Cedergren (Submarino) anchors this Danish thriller that won the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance.... More

"A sympathetic ear and willingness to help is what you expect when you dial 000. That’s not what happens when Asger Holm (Cedergren) answers. “It’s your own fault, isn’t it?” he tells one caller. But this demoted cop with a bad attitude springs attentively to life after receiving a call from Iben, a distressed mother who claims she’s been kidnapped by her violent ex-husband. Gustav Möller’s mightily impressive first feature delivers breath-quickening suspense without ever leaving the claustrophobic confines of Asger’s office." (Sydney Film Festival)Hide

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Flicks Review

Scrupulously lean and driven by cool-headed, precision staging that might suggest a Fincher protégé, The Guilty is a corker of a calling card for debuting Danish filmmaker Gustav Möller. Imagine a less histrionic and trashy version of Halle Berry’s 911 thriller The Call, and you might have something akin to this clammy single-location humdinger. It’s an 88-minute how-to in making something as exciting as The Taking of Pelham One Two Three within the limitations of a broom closet.... More

Okay, it’s not that restrictive. But given the minimal resources Möller and co-writer Emil Nygaard Albertsen have to play with, The Guilty undoubtedly tasks itself with a rigorously tight focus. Keeping what would conventionally constitute as action beats completely off-screen, the film’s plot unfolds over a series of conversations between a distressed emergency caller reporting an abduction and a former police officer, Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren), attempting to handle the situation over the phone.

Möller does hang his taut chamber craft on some B-level contrivance, particularly as the story searches for its climax (always a difficulty with real-time movies). But it’s to his—and Cedergren’s—credit that these turns don’t become distracting. Supported by expertly immersive sound design, Cedergren, who practically shoulders the entire film, gives a wholly breathtaking performance that both subtly builds character and addresses the larger systemic flaws that he’s merely a cog in. Though our perceptions of Holm are constantly challenged—he’s not the most immediately likeable protagonist—there’s not a second where we’re not feeling his position.

Rarely do thrillers break this little sweat while extracting so much of the viewer’s. 

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The Press Reviews

  • Despite a limited setting, Möller makes the most of his drama, keeping the action tense due to a powerful story and a tremendous performance from lead actor Jakob Cedergren. Full Review

  • In his feature debut, filmmaker Gustav Moller masterfully ratchets up tension without the benefit of the usual visual aids, forcing viewers to dust off their imaginations and put them to work with chillingly effective results. Full Review

  • Above all else, The Guilty is an acting showcase for Cedergren, whose has a considerable presence in European film and television but has yet to gain visibility in the English-language world. Full Review

  • A high-concept, low-budget and skilfully muscle-tensing Danish thriller to which you can imagine more than a couple of eager Tinseltown execs angling for the remake rights. Full Review

  • Godard said that all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun. Well, with his smart and mercilessly gripping abduction thriller, the Danish director Gustav Möller has pulled it off with a middle-aged man and a hands-free phone. Full Review

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