Saturday, 21 July 2018

The Guilty: NZIFF Review

The Guilty: NZIFF Review

Taut, terrific and twisty, The Guilty's captive setting and lead man make director Gustav Möller's claustrophobic call centre flick one of the most compelling of the festival.

Nearing the end of his potentially last shift, Jakob Cedergren's policeman Asger Holm is a troubled man. With a court appearance the next day, press hounding him, and colleagues clearly less than enamoured with him, Asger appears to simply want to get it done, and move on.

A series of emergency calls come in - each more mundane than the next in his eyes, but each vital to those dialling for the help. Then a call comes in that sets his senses off - an apparent kidnapping.

With the clock ticking in real-time, Asger decides to go back to his policeman roots and try and solve the case....
The Guilty: NZIFF Review

To say much about The Guilty's reveals is to spoil the elements carefully placed together by Cedergren and director Möller.

Background pieces are trickled through, each dripfed when needed and each naturally inserted into the narrative rather than shoe-horned in. As Asger tries to piece together the kidnapping, the audience is left piecing together him - it's a fascinatingly compelling touch from Möller and one which is wonderfully played by Cedergren's subtleties. The smallest of looks here, the slightest of twitches of behaviour there reveal more than screeds of exposition ever could - and The Guilty sells it right down the line.

Möller also delivers some directorial flair into the setting as well - he refuses initially to show anyone other than Asger in focus, hinting at Asger's perception that others around him are worthy of his time and temperament. Asger himself is never pictured in anything other than close up until it starts to unravel for him - all demonstrating more about character than dialogue would ever achieve.

As a result The Guilty becomes a film that looks like it's destined for a Hollywood remake. Sure, it's got touches of Locke and Buried, but it's also got a panache that's all its own and a sleekness which sets it above many other entries.

Clever, compelling, and character-led, The Guilty is a festival must-see - a stripped back, pared down character piece that's almost Shakespearean in its tragedy. See it now, preferably Hollywood miscasts its lead in its remake.

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