DVD: Guilty, The / Den skyldige (2018)

January 7, 2020 | By

Film: Excellent

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: n/a

Label:  Magnolia

Region: Region 1

Released:  February 5, 2019

Genre:  Drama  / Suspense

Synopsis: A detective on administrative duty attempts to resolve a kidnapping.

Special Features:  (none)




Told entirely from the perspective of one person, The Guilty is ostensibly about the last hours of a detective shoved into dull administrative duty as a dispatcher, and the phone call that changes his moral compass. The problem with The Guilty is that describing further events will easily ruin a compact, tight little suspense drama that relies on a low-key performance by Jakob Cedergren (Sandhamm Murders), and the gradual details of what sent Det. Asger Holm to a desk job at a 911 centre.

Cedergren had a small role in The Killing (2007) and co-starred in the Danish (and deeply flawed) CSI riff Those Who Kill (2011) – he was inarguably the best thing in the latter – and he shows quite elegantly an ability to carry an entire film, being onscreen all the time, as Holm takes a call and struggles to help Iben (Jessica Dinnage), a distressed woman abducted in front of her children.

Within a short time span, Holm’s able to track her rough coordinates and glean basic information of her recent troubles, much of it from clever questioning, GPI tracking, and logical assumptions and conclusions. As we learn more details of the woman’s predicament, Holm’s own career issues slowly come to light, especially since his best option is to call on the colleague enmeshed in his mess, and break a few rules to save the woman from a potentially nasty fate.

Holm’s transformation is believable – he’s initially cold and perfunctory with callers, talking down rather than offering sympathy, regardless of how minor or dumb the situations may be – and it’s Iben who reignites Holm’s shuttered skills and genuine compassion, tackling the hostage situation with professionalism. He does everything possible from his desk to save Iben, and slowly weighs his own moral & ethical prior transgressions as the drama approaches its endpoint.

There are several nail-biting moments throughout the film’s tight 85 mins., and Gustav Möller’s direction allows Cedergren to breathe onscreen without any technical distractions. A lesser director would’ve overcut scenes, truncated performance nuances, and fixated on visual minutia to spice up a single-character narrative, but Möller lets the camera glide, hold, and capture the subtle nuances of Cedergren’s quietly tense visage.

The dialogue (co-written with Emil Nygaard Albertsen) is sparse but to the point. Both the onscreen star and voices of the off-screen characters have gravitas, and perhaps the most identifiable emotion shared by all characters is exhaustion – of their jobs, bad relationships, petty managers, following protocol, and remaining calm by clamping down on instinctive, natural emotions.

Jasper Spanning’s intimate cinematographer and cool colour palette is gorgeous but never flashy, and the subtle sound design allows audiences to share in the same limited details privy to Holm through various calls. The lack of main score accentuates the drama, but Carl Coleman and Caspar Hesselager’s End Credits cue allow for a needed musical summary of what we’ve seen up close and personal, especially Holm’s final (and moral) decision in the last shot.

Magnet’s DVD is bare bones, but features an excellent transfer and clean sound design of a drama that’s only limited by the viewer’s imagination.



© 2019 Mark R. Hasan





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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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