"Filmed entirely within an emergency call center, Danish director Gustav Möller's The Guilty (Den skyldige) is a claustrophobic thriller that finds fascinating ways to spiritually transcend its confines," explains Bilge Ebiri.
"Pretty much the whole film consists of phone exchanges between Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren), a police officer who has been temporarily demoted to working the phones, and others out in the field as he struggles to save a woman who is being abducted by her ex-husband.
"Möller handles that solid premise with artful suspense: Asger initially has to keep the tearful, terrified victim, Iben, on the phone as long as he can, telling her to pretend she's speaking to her young daughter on the other line. Meanwhile, he's barking orders to emergency dispatch, to the highway police, even to his old partner, who appears to be drunk and off-duty." To read the full article, click here.
"Granted, we never get to see any of this mounting unpleasantness," notes Michael Rechtshaffen. "The cleverness of the film's construction restricts the evidence to voices and sounds, like those of hushed cries or windshield wipers, while the visual element is conveyed solely by Holm's eyes, with cinematographer Jasper Spanning's penetrating camera seldom leaving his face." To read the full article, click here.
"The film is confined to a single room and a story told in real time, so the visual limitations of that were also the strength and an opportunity to make something very distinct and precise," Spanning tells Filmmaker magazine. "There is a lot of action and drama that takes place on the other end of the main character's phone; a whole side of the movie that you never get to see, characters and locations that the audience has to picture themselves.
"So the idea was to give room for that process and an overly suggestive visual style would have been a distraction from that," Spanning continues. "The feeling should be persistent and focused. I especially wanted the cinematography to create a pressure on the main character. There is no easy way out for him, he has to keep going in his search for the truth and he ultimately has to deal with his own past. I wanted the camera to be fixated on him and slowly bring him into the darkness he has to face." To read the full interview, click here.
"The lighting should feel real and not stylized," Spanning says. "Gustav wanted the set to be very close to reality and resemble the dead end that the main character finds him trapped in. I was fortunate to spend a day at an alarm dispatch listening in on real calls. It was so intense and dramatic listening to all these different people's stories, but the place itself is a very ordinary office with very unforgiving light. Tubes in the ceiling, practicals and computer screens played a big part in designing the lighting. The key was to find the visual development in the story.
"As the story becomes darker, we let the main character shut off more and more light, and as he starts to question his own judgment and past, the lighting becomes more suggestive and enhanced." To read the full article, click here.
Read more: A Dirty Cop Tries to Do Good in The Guilty
Read more: Gustav Möller's The Guilty