Asger Holm (Jakob Sedergren) is a police operative who, after an incident, was sent to work as a 112 rescue operator in the eastern part of Zealand for the duration of the proceedings. This work requires certain qualities of character – calmness, equanimity and patience, but Holm is clearly not the right person. Therefore, he periodically breaks down on the callers and on his colleagues.
Most of the calls to Asger are trifling. Either some drunks, then a drug addict during the arrival, then a man who was robbed by a whore in the red light district. Many people asking for help cannot even properly describe where they are, and it doesn’t reach them that they won’t get help in this case either. The operator of the rescue service on the phone of the caller can get the approximate area where he is located, but this zone is quite large and some kind of clarification is always required.
At some point, when Asger had very little left before the end of his shift, another strange call rang out. The computer determined that the caller’s name was Iben (Jessica Dinnage). She spoke very strangely, as if she were talking to a child, and Asger suggested that the woman simply had too much to drink. He was about to hang up, when it suddenly dawned on him that a woman simply could not speak freely, but had to tell him something important. And on leading questions, Holm found out that the woman had been kidnapped and was being taken along the highway somewhere to the north of the island.
And then a police operative wakes up in Asger. He performs all the actions required by the protocol, but at the same time he is actively involved in the process of searching for and saving Iben.
Before watching the film, I knew that this was a completely chamber detective thriller in which the action takes place literally in two locations, where the main character alternately calls up the victim, then the relevant police services and tries to save the kidnapped.
This is a well-known genre, and I must say that among its representatives there are many successful films: for example, the same “Phone Booth” with Farrell. (However, I, unfortunately, cannot call the United Statesn film “Collector” with Khabensky successful, because Khabensky is good there, but the script is completely idiotic.)
In this case, the film was Danish, and the Danes know how to make detective thrillers, and usually they have everything in order with the script, so I try not to miss new pictures of Danish cinema.
Usually about the pictures in which the action takes place in one or two rooms, they say “film-play”. But in this case, this definition does not fit. Because there are quite a lot of purely cinematic staging and camera techniques that are not in the performances. This is exactly the film, despite the fact that in it almost all the time the main character just talks on the phone.
The picture began slowly, and I was even afraid that it would turn out to be boring, but from the moment Asger realized that the woman who called him was kidnapped, the degree of dynamism and drama increased by an order of magnitude and the picture did not let go until the very end. Well, I’ll say right away that the script here is excellent: this is a really exciting detective thriller in which there are literally deafening turns of action – despite the fact that everything happens behind the scenes.
For Gustav Moeller, this is the first screenplay and the first full-length production. And this is more than surprising, because the format he has chosen is very difficult even for experienced directors, and Meller in the film demonstrated both his talent as a screenwriter and the skill of a director: he seems to be quite simple actions – Asger, after the end of the shift, goes to a nearby empty and dark office and continues to resolve the situation there – he achieves a significant increase in the degree of tension among the audience.
And, despite the fact that my audience’s attention was completely drawn to the story unfolding on the screen, at the same time I noticed how skillfully and amazingly verified Meller builds each scene: how the camera focuses on Holm’s face and the emotions he experiences, how the lighting plays, increasing the drama of what is happening. how the background is initially filled with the conversations of colleagues, and then further and further the sound concentrates on Asger and the voices on his telephone receiver.
In the process, we also learn about some of the circumstances of the life of the policeman himself, which will help to understand why he becomes actually obsessed with this case, and there will be no clichés in this.
Jakob Sedergren absolutely wonderfully played the main character. But the role is the most difficult: for eighty-five minutes the policeman sits at the table and talks on the phone. And if at the very beginning Asger’s thoughts are occupied with completely different things and he treats the callers with some disdain, then in the story with Iben he goes through several stages of a very difficult spectrum of emotions. And it’s shown just fine!
I really liked it, I did not even expect such an emotional intensity from a picture in a similar format. Well, Gustav Meller was frankly surprised: wow, a screenwriting and directorial debut – this is not a debutant, this is a master! I’ll wait to see what else he will shoot – it’s very interesting.
By the way, in the States the picture was noticed and they are already going to shoot a remake. Jake Gyllenhaal will play the cop. Well, he can handle such a role, but let’s see what they do with the script and who will be the director.
PS Already in the three reviews that I read, it was emphasized in detail that the actor Jacob Sedergren in this film is terribly similar to Elon Musk. That’s because the problems people care about, I thought. Personally, I didn’t give a damn if he looked like Elon Musk, Ivan Fedorovich Krusenstern or Peter Boleslav Schmeichel. A good actor, he played well – what difference does it make who he looks like?
The Guilty movie meaning
Director: Gustav Moeller Cast: Morten Suurballe, Jakob Södergren, Jessica Dinnaj, Omar Shargavi, Johan Olsen, Jakob Ulrik Lohmann, Katinka Evers-Jansen, Jeanette Lindbeck, Simon Bennebjerg, Laura Bro
Detective thriller, Denmark, 2018, 85 min.