19th October 2018 12.45pm at odeontcr: Odeon Tottenham Court Road
Psychological crisis thrillers are no strangers when it comes to the silver screen, with Buried starring Ryan Reynolds and 2003’s Phone Booth being the first of many that come to mind, but they consistently prove to be enticing spectacles none the less. The Guilty, the first Danish feature release from Swedish director Gustav Moller, proves to be another film that nestles comfortably in this category, posing greater tests for its protagonist and providing greater twists and excitements along the way.
The movie opens at the beginning of police officer Asger Holm’s evening shift at a police station emergency dispatch unit. Asger (Jakob Cedergren) has recently been demoted off the streets and onto phones for a reason unknown to the audience, but one thing is for certain, he finds the job tedious, repetitive and demoralising. One might say it’s through experience, others, arrogance, but the police officer is quick off the mark at deducing what is the source of the callers’ queries, particularly when drugs or alcohol are involved. However, his resounding lack of sympathy for these callers is shaken and tested to the limit by a plea he receives from a woman claiming she has been kidnapped and her captor is threatening her with a knife. Suddenly, Asger is thrown into a turbulent investigation in which he, armed with his headset alone, becomes the emotional outlet for participants involved in the case as well as being the sole officer with the material to piece together the true story.
A film with vim and vigour, The Guilty leaves no holds barred with enough plot twists to engross the audience for its 85-minute duration. Phone conversations can become tedious and dry if not scripted effectively, but for Moller and Emil Nygaard Albertsen, this has proved no challenge at all, with each discourse building and contributing greater threads to the constantly advancing web of a plot. Moller applies his cinematography and editing skills to his directing, knowing expertly how to manipulate the heartstrings of the audience as if they were clay in his hands, sculpting a gripping creation that not only shows the emotional toils wreaked upon emergency phone line operators, ranging from verbal abuse to harrowing incidents, but also climaxing with an excellent twist that could never be predicted in such an unpredictable film.
It has to be noted that The Guilty also contains no soundtrack, placing emphasis on the dialogue and making the most of the sound effects coming from the other end of Asger’s phone line, building tension that can be cut with a knife. This, partnered with the unnerving expressions of excruciation from Jakob Cedergren, who tells half the story with just his eyes, builds a “show, don’t tell” ambience, allowing the audience to feel as though they are in the room with Asger, absorbing every minute with immense intrigue. Don’t be alarmed if a bead of sweat rolls down your own brow…
The Guilty is released in select cinemas on 26th October 2018.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Guilty here: