Review: The Guilty gets big thrills from clever script, bravura acting and single location

Denmark's Oscar entry about a police officer investigating an abduction makes the most of its limitations

THE GUILTY (Gustav Möller). 85 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (October 19). See listing. Rating: NNNN

The Guilty is an intriguing addition to both the Scandi crime canon and the single-location thriller sub-genre (Green Room, Buried).

Danish police officer Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is working in an emergency call centre when he receives a cryptic call from a frazzled woman (voiced by Jessica Dinnage) who’s talking in code, pretending Asger is her young daughter to hide the fact that she’s been abducted. Asger uses his cop smarts to try and track down the van she’s in, locate the kid and discover the abductor’s identity.

Meanwhile, he’s preparing for an upcoming inquiry into some unsavoury thing he did on the force. First-time feature director Gustav Möller wrings maximum drama from the claustrophobic setting, conveying lots with the sound mix as Asger tries to glean clues from what he hears.

A project like this lives or dies on its acting, and Cedergren’s bravura performance – cocky one moment, despairing the next – will make you ignore the plot’s contrivances.

The film, Denmark’s official Oscar entry, is getting a run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, but it would work just as well on the small screen, where it pops up next week On Demand and on iTunes. 

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