THREE AND A HALF STARS A Danish police officer receives an emergency call from a kidnapped woman.
This exciting Danish thriller is all the more remarkable for its minimal settings (two) and even smaller cast (one). In a police emergency centre, Asger (Jakob Cedergren) receives a call from a distressed woman who says she’s been kidnapped. The perpetrator is her estranged partner and adding to the urgency are the couple’s young children who have been left home alone. As Asger coordinates support from other police divisions in the hope of rescuing the woman and her kids, a picture at odds with the original phone call begins to emerge.
Similar in nature to Tom Hardy’s sensational, car-bound LOCKE, all the action takes place in a call centre. Other than a couple of colleagues silently manning their own emergencies in the background, we never see anyone but Asger. The victim, the children and support officers quite literally phone in their performances which the Dane fields like the seasoned officer he is. Consequently the film rides on the singular presence of Cedergren, and it’s a compelling one.
If you can jump a minor narrative road-bump (inexplicably, Asger doesn’t seek assistance from his immediate superiors despite the severity of the situation), THE GUILTY is a thoroughly entertaining film. Our officer is sufficiently complicated to intrigue without overwhelming the drama, while plot twists pepper the action without sacrificing authenticity. The unusual staging is a winning change from the familiar Scandi-noir formula, one that pays further dividends by compressing the story’s considerable anxiety into the pressure of a call-centre. Well worth your time.