Film Review: “The Guilty” (2018) ★★★★★


What else needs to be said to describe how deep and shocking Gustav Möller’s “The Guilty” is? Having explored multiple concepts in one piece, it takes the viewer to a very dark path from where we, same as the victim, are going to be left alone with one question – aren’t we all guilty of something, after all?

“The Guilty” follows Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren), a police officer under investigation who is assigned to work as an alarm dispatch. He receives a phone call from a kidnapped woman whom he tries to help survive. As he dives deep into the matter, the officer that has already broken all possible rules, does the unthinkable by entering himself into a roller coaster ride of emotions to race against time that he has no control over.

After the opening scene, when Asger abruptly ends the short conversation with the journalist (Laura Bro), the viewer can already guess that Asger is involved in a high-profile case that involves an incident that occurred while he was on duty. But there’s something about him we already are willing to rely our trust on. And he does not disappoint as soon as he responds to the first emergency call from one woman named Iben (Voice of Jessica Dinnage).

Asger, first, did not realize why Iben calls. He even thought that she dialed a wrong number until a minute later when he finally figures out that she’s pretending as if she was talking to her daughter, so her kidnapper won’t realize she’s seeking help from the authorities. Not being able to identify her whereabouts, Asger involves New Zeeland and Copenhagen’s police office, however, none of them were able to help. That’s when the man is left alone with Iben, her daughter Mathilde, and her little brother, Oliver, to ensure their mother gets back home safe and sound.

“The Guilty” is a Danish nail-biting suspenseful drama that will stun you to the core. Towards the end, once you get all the details you need, don’t be surprised when you find yourself speechless. Right from the beginning, there’s not even the slightest hint about the direction the director takes us in, and even if that fact becomes more annoying, you grow more curious. Möller satisfies that curiosity with the intense ending that might make some of you cry.

Yes, the movie itself is extremely emotional, deeply moving and superbly engaging. It has no car chasing scenes but rather offer experience through Asger’s eyes who, from his desk, leads the conversation, rescue, while we, the same as him, have no chance to leave the workspace to ensure whenever Iben calls, Asger will be there to respond. Jakob Cedergren as Asger is astounding. All the emotions he goes through the entire movie is award worthy. With his knockout performance, he captures despair, guilt, courage and bold attitude in one man along with the heavy burden of the past he carries on his shoulders.

Iben, of course, is a victim, but Asger is a victim as well but he just does not admit it. But the fact that he was willing get into confrontation with two different cities to help one woman and her two children makes Iben a courageous individual as well, who realizes that his job does not end by ending the call, but only when the issue or the cause of that call is completely resolved. And due to incredible character development, “The Guilty” never fails at explaining why Asger does all these – why he suddenly acts like a hero, as someone who truly cares, if caring is not part of his job description.

In the end, “The Guilty” is a movie that’s worth seeing. It captures quite well that certain jobs must be taken seriously. People’s lives cannot be taken for granted. And yesterday’s failure is today’s success. The guilt is not necessarily caused by doing something wrong. It can be caused due to mistakes, causing unintentional harm even if that unintentional harm means putting an end to someone’s life. So, what is the guilt, the truth, and how should we handle the plea of helping another human being? We may not have the right answer, but Asger does. And that is what makes him so unique, so humane and yet an unpredictable person whose life serves a bigger purpose than he can barely realize.

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