The Guilty

Do you wanna have your mind blown? Go see the movie Denmark submitted for the “best foreign film” to the Academy this year. It’s only going to be at the Ken Cinema for another few days, so ya better hurry. The only reason I got to this so late, is because the San Diego International Film Festival was going on, and I was spending 10 hours a day there watching movies. I finally got around to seeing this, and my wife and I dug it.

So, five years ago all the critics praised Tom Hardy for his movie Locke. It had a terrific performance, but was actually very flawed. This movie reminded me of it, in the fact that we spend 90 minutes with a guy on the phone; but we don’t have a guy dealing with an illegitimate child on the way, a kids soccer game, fights with his wife, a business deal going south, and discussions with his dad, who happened to appear as a ghost in his back seat.

Instead, this movie deals with a 911 operator, and boy do you gain a lot of respect for how they do their jobs. It’s amazing to think that this is the directorial debut for Gustav Moller.

We watch Asger Holm (a brilliant performance by Jakob Cedergren), who has been demoted and forced to work dispatch. We hear a few of the calls we’d expect — a drunk woman that crashes her bike and scraped up her knee. There’s a guy that’s been beat up by a doorman at a nightclub. Yet the call that Asger gets most invested in, is an abducted woman. Asger thinks quick on his feet (or…sitting on his butt in a room with other bored officers). He quickly tells the woman to pretend she’s talking to her daughter, so the abductor doesn’t get suspicious. She can’t describe the vehicle, so he quickly mentions various colors, telling her to say “fine” when he happens upon it.

The tension builds and builds, and it’s fun to think about what you’d do in that situation (either the situation of the kidnapped woman, or the operator). It’s also interesting to slowly find out what’s happening.

The woman is named Iben (Jessica Dinnage). Sometimes Asger talks calmly to her, a few times, he snaps. It’s also intriguing (albeit derivative) that this officer has a few flaws. They’ll slowly be revealed as well. We do learn early on that his court case is the following day, and that might explain why he’s a bit more on edge than the normal 911 operator (who else would tell a guy robbed by a prostitute, that it was his own fault for being in the red light district).

My one minor complaint is that the other officers Asger has to deal with, seem a little bit more curt with him than was warranted.

One of the more engaging elements of this movie is the sound editing by Oskar Skriver. We hear sounds that Asger hears over the phone. Most times it helps paint the picture of exactly what’s going on. A few times, it has us confused and adds to the stress level of the situation at hand. We can really feel for this officer’s desperation in the situation that’s presented.

It’s a rather minimalist approach, that packs a huge punch.

Don’t let the subtitles scare you. Go see this.

3 ½ stars out of 5.