Foreign films are by no means in short supply, but I don’t see as many as I probably should. However, I did have to good fortune to see the newly released Danish thriller The Guilty (Den Skyldige), in which a police officer assigned to dispatch enters a race against time when he answers a call from a kidnapped woman.
Despite this very confined and restrictive scenario haven been played out before in film, television and even short features, it’s clever execution helps it stand out from its contemporaries. There’s a remarkable impression of realism portrayed by the individuals calling in for help, especially the primary victim. Broken sentences and delayed response mixed with moments of inaudible dialogue add authenticity, whereas a more mainstream production would have likely opted for a more rehearsed approach resulting in over dramatization. Furthermore, our protagonist Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is far from a flawless hero and does not make a positive impression on the viewer upon his testy introduction. He’s overtly dismissive and rather judgmental towards callers. We also soon learn that a recent incident in the line of duty has amounted to a looming court hearing, applying further pressure to his fragile temperament. I felt this was very clever move employed by the filmmakers and certainly added an interesting element to the mix. This subplot suggests that our victim may not be in the most capable hands or even in a greater position of danger, allowing the possibly of grave decisions to be made on both ends. With the crisis rapidly unfolding, it inadvertently serves a means for Asger to examine himself as not just a police officer but as a person burdened with a fractured sense of morality. He seeks redemption while trying to save the lives of on the other end of his headset and it’s a powerful journey for all involved. Filmed entirely within the police call-centre, the real-time narrative is intense, sending our mind’s eye into overdrive and Jakob Cedergren’s frantic performance conveys the nail-biting sense of urgency.
Following a run at last year’s Sydney Film Festival, The Guilty is set for a limited theatrical release across Australia from tomorrow, February 28th, through Rialto Distribution Australia. For session times, locations and additional information on the film, visit flicks.com.au
(2018, dir: Gustav Möller)