First of all, let me just say I saw the latest Marvel superhero movie Spiderman: Far From Home. It was fun, but the formula is getting painfully familiar and predictable. Thankfully, I watched another film this week: The Guilty which offers a story that is absorbing, inventive, and unpredictable.
First released in October 2018, The Guilty is available through your personal movie viewing platform. A police officer in Denmark working a shift as an emergency phone line operator, is swept into a chase for survival when he answers the call of a kidnapped woman. The brilliance of this film is its use of carefully crafted dialogue and patient editing with the entire story unfolding over the phone. Multiple phone calls, harried conversations, and fatal twists transform this police officer from a bored desk jockey to a helpless man desperate to prove himself an efficient, yet flawed, savior.
Even though the whole film is physically set in a mundane office, and focused almost entirely on this one man, the use of dialogue over the phone forces you to use your imagination, taking you on a gripping journey that is entirely mental. The lead actor (a stoic Jakob Cedergren, Compulsion, 2016) does an admirable job keeping the story grounded in emotional reality. With every click of the keyboard and every shadow cast by the glow of his computer screen, Cedergren's performance is magnetic and haunting in its simplicity. Thank goodness for contemporary foreign films that are brave enough to explore different kinds of storytelling.