Fantastic Fest 2018 Review: THE GUILTY

Swedish filmmaker Gustav Möller’s “The Guilty” Arrives in Austin.

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B –

While not the most original and brand new premise for a script, Swedish filmmaker Gustav Möller’s feature debut, “The Guilty,” has a limited space to work in and tell this story. Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is in one room, answering telephones. We see with an earpiece-and-mic in many close ups by cinematographer Jasper Spanning that captures this actor’s facial features very closely, conveying so much of his emotion. It is very similar to Tom Hardy in “Locke” (2014), also a single-location film featuring the protagonist in a series of telephone conversations and plenty of drama. I was not totally happy viewing the onset of the film and thinking it is too similar to each other. It did not take long for me to change my mind about this psychological thriller as I watched Cedergren take me on his journey.

Screenwriters Möller and co-writer Emil Nygaard Albertsen have crafted a great story, providing information little by little about this officer in the police emergency services control room, and how he handles the situation at hand right before he is to end his shift for the evening. It is provocative and emotional, and it certainly made me feel as if I was in the same room as he is. And it is nerve wracking!

The audience is slowly informed that this dispatcher hasn’t been at this job very long. In fact, it is not Asger’s real job. This temporary assignment may come to an end once some legal proceedings happen soon. Asger responds to an incoming call from a woman who may be “drunk calling” and his evening is about to change dramatically. The conversation results as if conversing “in code” and his police training leads him to know there is more than meets the eye. He can’t seem to wait on others and begins some detective work. Asger works as if he is on the beat, yet never leaves the control room offices.

The supporting actors on the phone include Jessica Dinnage as Iben, the woman caller, as well as Johan Olsen and Omar Shargawi in key roles while Asger is on the phone working on the “case” he has assigns to himself. They are excellent voice actors who provide all levels of emotion, including increasing panic, to this excellent story.

“The Guilty” is indeed a very engaging film. It should not be dismissed lightly and assume it is a story you have seen before. It succeeds when you do not expect it to. Kudos to this filmmaking team! Don’t miss this gem as it arrives in Austin this weekend.

Rated: R for language

Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Source: Magnolia Pictures

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