If a standalone movie can somehow be a bottle episode of itself, then Gustav Möller’s gripping The Guilty qualifies, while also being a testament to the importance of sound mixing. Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is a disgraced police officer working the graveyard shift in an emergency call center in Copenhagen. He’s more than a little judgmental toward the callers: If you get mugged in the Red-Light District, how’s that his problem, exactly? But then the dickish Asger receives a call from a tearful woman (Jessica Dinnage) who’s been kidnapped by her ex-husband (Johan Olsen).
Möller’s camera never leaves the confines of the call center for the duration of the film, and Asger’s own spiritual descent as the night wears on is mirrored by his physical surroundings growing darker and more claustrophobic — until a final shot that reframes everything that came before it, or at least signifies that the influence of John Ford’s The Searchers knows no bounds. And while the focus is always on Jakob Cedergren’s face, The Guilty nonetheless creates a lush, scary outside world through just the sound coming from Asger’s headset. The Guilty’s biggest strain on suspension of disbelief is how the cell phones maintain the fidelity of landlines in the worst of conditions, but that’s movie magic for ya.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.