Hahahaha YES! Pardon me and my giddy school girl dancing. I’ve got a fun new MOOOvie! I’ve got a fun new MOOOooOovie! Yes! Oh how I just LOVE finding crazy, different mind bending movies that there is no way, on this gloriously green earth, you would have heard about on your own. Nope. No no no no no. Not even a little bit. Here’s the IMDB page to help you track it down. It’s currently “in theaters”, yeah, sure it is. I don’t see it playing in theaters ever in America. Nope. But I also see that it is available for rent on Amazon too.
The movie is follows Asger through his shift as an emergency phone operator. At first, all is about as normal as can be expected for an emergency call center. But then Asger gets a call from Iben, and quickly Asger deduces that she’s been abducted. The rest of the movie, yeah, the whole of it, plays out while watching Asger attempt to save this woman in real time. It’s a super clever idea for a film, one that will keep you thinking long after the end credits have rolled. I really really enjoyed it… and you, literally cannot, under any cricumstances, be my friend anymore if you don’t like it. Like, a lot. You have to like it a lot. No exceptions. hahahah.
Trust me, the zigs, and the zags of this tight little script are well plotted and executed. The real time element of this movie definitely drives urgency. Not to mention the fact that we stay focused on Asger the entire movie really adds something different to the movie. I highly, highly doubt that it’ll be long before this movie gets a Hollywood remake. (Because Americans can’t stand non-English films for some reason… “I DONT GO TO THE THEATER TO READ! Thank you very much.”) So yeah. Find a way to watch before you go any further. Spoilers abound from here on out.
Let’s Talk About The Guilty
The Guilty is a Danish movie focusing on a policeman placed on administrative leave, or demoted to a emergency contact center until the court case has been against him has been resolved. We sort of feel, rather than are told, that Asger, the police officer, is in something of significant trouble as a result. But soon, we find ourselves watching as Asger begins taking calls from individuals in trouble around the country of Denmark.
And we learn as much about him through his handling of these calls than we could if he would just tell us himself. He’s curt, and dismissive with those in need. He’s quick to render judgement of those who’ve called. “Shouldn’t have been drinking, should you have?” And quickly we understand that there are two storylines happening simultaneously. The first is about Asger, and we only get slivers of the story from him and the people around him in the call center occasionally. And the second is about a woman named Iben.
Iben’s Emergency Call
Asger doesn’t know what’s going on when Iben first calls. It’s confusing and disorienting because Iben can’t talk. But over time, he starts to realize that Iben has been abducted and that she’s in trouble. But Asger, not being a police officer anymore – at least for now – is trapped in this room, with his phone and nothing else. He’s unaware of Iben’s location beyond a general GPS tower location. Asger knows one thing regardless of everything else, he is going to help Iben no matter the cost.
So, searching, Asger tracks down Iben’s home number, and makes contact with the children that Iben is worried about. Their names are Mathilde and Oliver, and for some reason they’ve been left alone at home, further corroborating Iben’s story that she has been abducted against her will. So, Asger, hearing the fear in Mathilde’s voice, tells her to go in with her brother Oliver and to keep him company until the cops arrive at the house. Yeah. More about that in a moment.
Eventually, Asger gets reconnected with Iben again, and this time, she’s in the back of the van and they are able to talk. Asger tries to settle her fears down, and they have a beautiful conversation about going to the Blue Planet, an aquarium. But eventually Asger starts to realize that Iben isn’t completely alright. And eventually, from the cops he’s sent over to the house, he learns that Oliver, yeah, he’s actually dead. And Iben tells Asger that Oliver had snakes in his belly that had to come out. Yeah, it went that direction.
The Guilty’s Second Thread
And as the story develops on the Iben front, and we are realizing everything isn’t as it seems there, we are also realizing not all is kosher on Asger’s front either. You see, he is apparently coercing his partner Rashid into lying to the investigators about something. And not only that, but they are scheduled to go to court tomorrow to give testimony to corroborate something that had happened. Not only that, but It’s clear that Asger’s wife has left him. Asger is in a downward spiraling free fall apparently.
Soon we learn that Asger is charged with killing a teen. Apparently he shot the teen during a stop of some sort. And it is this incident that Rashid has to back Asger up on. That the shot was justified, and the teen was attacking them. And Rashid is on board, he’s nervous, but he’s ready to do what he has to do to get his partner back out on patrol with him.
The Guilty’s Interlacing Threads
Where The Guilty gets really fascinating is when the Iben thread decidedly interleaves with the murder trial thread. We see both things coming miles away, but it is artfully done in the way the two threads are connected.
Asger hasn’t heard from Iben lately. Why? Because he talked Iben into smashing her abductor in the face with a brick and running. Well, apparently that was really successful, and Michael, her husband/abductor has had enough. Why? Well, because Michael only wanted to help her, and was rushing her to a psychiatric hospital. But when Asger gets in touch with Iben again, well, things aren’t good because she’s stand high up on a bridge. And she’s contemplating suicide.
Well, it’s during this conversation between Iben and Asger that Asger lays it all out on the line for Iben in the hopes of saving her life. He tells her about how horrible his life had become lately. That he too had killed someone, but instead of doing it accidentally like she did, he had done it on purpose. He had claimed self defense, but it wasn’t. And here’s the piece of the movie that I found so fascinating. Asger had killed the teen because he’d had had enough. That he wanted to remove something bad… but he didn’t know what.
“Was it snakes?” chimes in Iben.
“Yeah, it was.” answered Asger.
And then the call cuts off. Soon Asger gets word from police on site that they have Iben, that she’s safe. And with that, Asger walks out into the hallway, and starts a phone call, and the credits roll.
The Ins and Outs of the Guilty
At first, when the movie started rolling, I assumed the guilty was Michael, the one that had abducted Iben. And when we learned that Iben had killed her son Oliver, I assumed it was referring to Iben. But then, when we started learning that Asger had killed a teen, that he did it just because he could, and that he was trumping up a self defense response, I began to realize that the title had to be referring to Asger.
This is a universal feeling – I’m sure of it – this desire to get rid of the black snakes in our lives. Or maybe it’s only Iben, Asger and myself that have had this feeling? Oh, it got really weird in here all of a sudden. But yeah, this feeling of a need for someone to come and take the black snakes out of our lives. And while I do think it’s cool that Asger “saved” Iben’s life. But really? It’s actually Iben that saved Asger. You know? She is the one that pointed out to Asger his need for a radical change in his life. He’d lost his wife (maybe that was only because he was jerk, but maybe it was because she knew he’d killed the teen, we don’t know.) He’d lost his job. He’d lost his sense of morality and right and wrong. He’d lost his way. That is, until he met Iben, a woman that had just murdered her son, and then he knew just how bad things had gotten. His need for help.
I’m guilty. Definitely. I can relate to sections of this movie. I’m definitely in need of someone to come along and cut the black snakes out of my life. How about you? What did you think of this movie? It was different for sure. I’m betting it cost twelve dollars and ninety five cents to make. And most of that was in marketing. And yet, the writing was so strong. So compelling. We follow this woman that is abducted only to learn her husband was trying to save her. And then learn that it’s actually the one on the phone trying to help that is the one in need of saving.
Question – who do you think Asger was on the phone with as he walked out of the movie? Me? I’ve got my money on his wife. You? Who do you think he called?
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