The no-frills “The Guilty” (“Den Skyldige” in the original Danish) is Denmark’s gathering storm movie. This film was selected as that country’s entry for the Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards, as was announced this week. Gustav Möller, its director, has said, “I am deeply convinced that constraints stimulate creativity. It is a tradition that I inherited from my years at the Danish Film School. I think it’s something you have to work with, whatever the budget of the film. Constraints make you more creative–at least, they make me more creative. The premise of the film itself requires restraint.”
In “Guilty” police officer Asger Holm answers an emergency call from a woman who’s been kidnapped. As the details of the crime emerge, becoming increasingly complex, Holm, a voice on the phone, lends assistance and tries to solve the case, the telephone his only resource.
“The Guilty,” a suspenseful and measured thriller/procedural, is a reminder that in cinema, less is more is sometimes a good thing. A feat of technicality and visual accuracy (to say nothing of a superb soundtrack), “Guilty” takes place in all of two rooms, with the main character and his phone front and center. Rather than limiting the film’s prospects, this sparsity motivates the viewer’s imagination into going to places unknown. Cedergren’s cool and composed performance is mesmerizing, the glue that holds “The Guilty” together.
Academy Awards nominations will be announced on January 22nd, and the ceremony will take place February 24th at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.