TIFF 2021: “The Guilty”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The job of a 911 dispatcher is not easy, especially when they have to deal with an extreme situation where someone requires emergency assistance and guidance and no one is around. This is when the skill of a dispatcher will be tested if he can manage the tense situation and come out of it victorious.

A remake of the Danish film with the same title, “The Guilty” follows Joe Bayler (Jake Gyllenhaal), a police offer who was sent to the dispatcher room due to an unspecified investigation, with the fate of his future to be determined the next morning. During his shift, early morning, he receives a phone call from Emily Lighton (Riley Keough) who pretends to be talking to her daughter Abby, while she talks to the police reporting her own abduction.

Joe is one of the worst dispatchers you will never want to deal with. His temper, impatience and inability to get into a concise dialogue make him the worst communicator. And trusting him as a 911 dispatcher is not a good idea. But that will be proven wrong when he receives a call from the woman. When he realizes that she has been abducted, he begins a race against time, while LAPD and the entire city deal with wildfires.

From director Antoine Fuqua, the remake of the Danish film got better with Gyllenhaal as a troubled officer with a dark past. The brilliant performance by Gyllenhaal in the ideal world would secure him a second Oscar nomination as he, in certain scenes, was a master at work. The emotionally charged film brings up the important job of a 911 dispatcher that cannot be taken for granted. Seeing wildfires on the big screen shows the tense environment people of LA live in, yet, continuously rely on the work of police officers.

That being said, the film will work better for you if you haven’t seen the original version. Because it’s pretty much, like-to-like. But don’t let that fact discourage you because “The Guilty” provides a highly emotional journey that you can manage if you have fastened your seat belts. Every scene will keep you on the edge of your seat. Each line will make you angry. And when Joe will begin to shout, because he cannot find an available officer, you will scream along with him, because no matter what, you won’t be able to stay indifferent throughout. Not when someone’s life is at stake.

%d bloggers like this: