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film review

Jakob Cedergren plays an emergency-dispatch officer having a very bad night in The Guilty.NIKOLAJ MOELLER/Mongrel Media

  • The Guilty
  • Directed by Gustav Moller
  • Written by Gustav Moller and Emil Nygaard Albertsen
  • Starring Jakob Cedergren
  • Classification: 14A; 85 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

The entire film takes place in an office, with director Gustav Moller refusing to show just who is on the other line.Mongrel Media

As Jean-Luc Godard once said (or D.W. Griffith, depending on which film historian you ask), all filmgoers want is a “girl and a gun.” How about a guy and a phone, though?

This particular micro-genre seems to be an irresistible siren call for some directors, with a handful of movies centering on nothing more than one man and one wireless connection: Buried, Cellular, Locke. Dialling in this time around is Gustav Moller, whose directorial debut The Guilty focuses on one emergency-dispatch officer having a Very Bad Night.

Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is a Copenhagen cop riding a desk for reasons that soon become clear. After spending a shift callously dismissing drug addicts and johns who call in complaining about their predicaments, Asger hears from a distressed young woman relaying the details of her own in-process abduction.

Quickly, Asger is thrown into a propulsive chase movie minus the actual chase: The entire film takes place in Asger’s bland office, with Moller refusing to show just who is on the other line.

It’s a neat trick that could easily fall apart or feel needlessly stage-y, yet Moller and his co-writer Emil Nygaard Albertsen keep Asger on his toes, until a brutal (if perhaps predictable) twist arrives. Cedergren excels at balancing Asger’s cynical cool with his desire to help (or perhaps simply help himself), and the entire endeavour will leave you with a new-found respect for 911 operators.

The Guilty opens Oct. 19 in Toronto