The Guilty

DRAMA; 1hr 25min (Danish with subtitles)

STARRING: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage (voice), Johan Olsen (voice)

Innocent until proven: Cedergren

Writer-director Gustav Müller is in no hurry to press Play in the establishing minutes of his feature-film debut. But once he does get going, it’s a nerve-shredding hell on wheels.


In an impersonal Copenhagen office, Emergency Services dispatcher and former policeman Asger Holm (Cedergren) goes about his telephone duties with the unreadable sangfroid that law-enforcement officers universally like to adopt. After a couple of routine calls, he lands the big kahuna: a woman (Dinnage), in transit with her abductor (Olsen), is barely keeping it together. Now Asger potentially has a life to save, and as the mechanics of that urgent operation unfold, so too does the complexity of his own situation.


Since the balance of power boils down to one man—and the disembodied voices with which he interacts—tight writing and centring are all-important. Like Ryan Reynolds in Buried and Tom Hardy in Locke, Cedergren’s steady gravity and stress-driven flameouts are a conduit to lower depths neither he nor you will see coming. However you interpret them—as an indictment of preconception, an anatomy of hopelessness, the purgatory of good intentions gone terribly wrong or a remorseless reading of all three—everyone in this nightmare, real-time ride takes shape as a victim of something.