THE GUILTY (Den skyldige) [2018]


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The Guilty takes place into two rooms within an Emergency services call centre. The focus is on one man working here, Asger Holm, who is in every scene throughout. A few factors emerge quickly, one is that he doesn’t seem to be all that interested in his job, and a clue why presents itself in the form of a telephone call from a journalist, asking for Asger’s comment on an unknown issue that he was obviously at the centre of.

Baffled by how she got his mobile number, he quickly utters “No comment’ and quickly hangs up the phone. Other small clues give us a glance into Asger’s head-space, such as his unblinking stare at an aspirin tablet dissolving in water. His phone begins to ring, unbeknown to him until a colleague nudges him. Something isn’t right with Asger, and the film doesn’t provide many more clues until the story being told boils over.

A unique screenplay is used, where we only see one side of the action: the side that can’t physically see the action. The script becomes ever important then, and it doesn’t disappoint. We hear what Asger hears but never see a thing, much like Asger. Like a good novel then, our imagination is evoked.

The execution of this idea is incredible as the script paints a picture, a ride that begins when Asger answers a call from a woman who has been kidnapped. Asger quickly takes it upon himself to solve the crime and begins to call in favours while making assumptions that stretch far beyond his role in the call centre. But the call from Iben has obviously stuck out from all the other mundane calls he has received.

Asger’s actions plant ideas in our heads about what exactly is happening on the other side of the phone. It is a very inventive way of illustrating an image with dialogue alone, an image that will be different for each viewer.

A film like this relies on its lead actor to carry the film in a manner not dissimilar to Tom Hardy in Locke, and the stoney faced Jakob Cedergren is near flawless with his calm demeanor that subtly shows something lurking inside, what exactly, we’ll never know. The camera-work and its use of zoom penetrate Asger Holm further, Jakob Cedergren forever hard to read.

A minimalist and very Scandinavian film in its almost deliberate decision to stage nothing that could be considered remotely fancy or visually exciting, it uses the lack of any action to put us firmly is Asger’s shoes, through all the decisions he makes. Throughout the film then as we watch Asger try to handle the situation, and especially after the ordeal, we are greeted with a simple question. Is Asger Holm a good man?


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12 Comments on “THE GUILTY (Den skyldige) [2018]

  1. A good suspense thriller but I have mixed feelings about the message. What happens in the story is not the norm but a rare occurrence. My worry is the film might lead viewers to be fearful and avoid entire groups of people in society. We get inside the woman’s head and can try and understand her and that is what the film does well for me.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hmmmm, maybe… but there are a lot worse films that exploit mental illness – Split and Glass being two prime recent examples, especially Split which was just awful in how it tried to legitmise the guy’s DID, while simultaneously depicting this disorder in a way that couldn’t be further from reality.

        Here though, for me, I thought it was handled well, they only really referenced her being locked up and Michael saying how she was sick. It coulda been far, faaaaar worse 😛 but I do see what you’re saying. And of course you’re right, we’ll all react differently. Tho for me, I despise movies who make a joke out of mental illness as I come from a deep background of… well, name it, I’ve had it at some point haha! So its interesting you took that from this movie while I didn’t.

        Goddamn I love movies, I could talk about them all day!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was really impressed with how involved I got in this story. It’s so simple but so effective. Excited to see you enjoyed it too. (And of course they’re remaking it in America, with Jake Gyllenhaal set to star. As much as I like that guy, I fear it won’t be anywhere near as good as this.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is no way. I love Jake too but… nope. God this whole remake for US audiences thing fucks me off. Half the reason this works is precisely BECAUSE its Scandinavian in its tone. Its so calm yet the story is so exciting – that juxtaposition won’t be there in the remake., simply because of the culture.

      Liked by 1 person

      • as most of them do really. I can’t think of a US adaptation that was better than the original. I’m sure there are a few but they’d be bloody rare!

        Liked by 1 person

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