It is surprising how much tension can be expertly worked up n a film that almost completely focuses on a cop on the telephone trying to solve emergency call-in problems. Such is the case in “The Guilty,” a Danish film directed by Gustav Moller and starring Jakob Cedergren in a compelling performance as the police officer. Moller wrote the screenplay with Emil Nygaard Albertsen.
We learn a lot about the dogged personality of Asger Holm, who takes problems seriously and tries to intervene to the best of his ability, often against procedure. There is always the risk of his efforts going awry.
Gradually we learn of why he has been assigned to phone duty and is due to face a court case the following day, with his fate as a cop hanging in the balance. But mainly he is seen—and heard on the phone—as attempting to save a woman who phones and says she has been kidnapped by her husband. There is the problem of finding where the van in which she is riding is, and dispatching police to intervene.
Holm is also deeply concerned about two children left alone at home, and he talks to a little girl to inform her that police have been sent and to let them in to help her and her baby brother. Holm makes one phone call after another to keep the ball rolling and solve the situation, partly by sending a colleague to help. The relationship with the colleague is an issue in itself, as he has made up a phony story in Holm’s defense and can be left compromised should Holm decide to tell the truth about what happened that led him to court.
Ultimately, things aren’t as they appear, and that provides the intense drama that both shocks him and touches his humanity. Little by little the truth unravels, and director Moller keeps the film constantly intense and gets us caught up in all that happens, as well as in the persona of Holm.
Wisely, the direction and screenplay never gets to a court scene. We have been given all te information to digest and speculate as to what happens after the immediate crisis has been resolved. A Magnolia Picures release. Reviewed October 19, 2018.