The Guilty (Den Skyldige) (2018)



Although set in a single room, Gustav Möller’s first feature cranks up the tension with a layered and intense story.

A cop, Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is assigned to answering emergency calls while he waits for a court case that will clear him of some unnamed misconduct. It’s obviously a punishment and he is frustrated by the trivial nature (he thinks) of the calls that come in. When a call comes in from a woman in a car, Iben (Jessica Dinnage), it soon becomes clear that she has been abducted. With very little to go on and unable to go out on the streets, Asger can only use the phone to try and find Iben before she is harmed.

To say anything more about the plot would spoil it. It takes time to unravel and as we (and Asger) discover new information, complexities about Iben and Asger are revealed. Although on the surface this is about the race to find Iben, Möller successfully and subtly underpins the narrative with an exploration of abuses of power. It’s not as simple as the tendency for those with power to feel entitled to wield it, it’s also about what can happen when we are taking risks and making choices for the ‘right’ reasons.

Cedergren is excellent. He is on screen 100% of the time and he is completely absorbing. There is much he hides, from himself and from us, and it is satisfying watching the arc of his character. Möller is able to create a world outside of the call centre just through the most minimal dialogue. Dinnage is a standout as we feel we know and can see Iben just through the quality of her voice and emotion. The ending is perfect.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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