The Guilty remakes another foreign language film but this one is the best of the two TIFF premieres that largely depend on one person.
The film is based on Den Skyldige. However, I cannot tell you whether this film works better or doesn’t because I didn’t see the original. I can tell you that The Guilty is effective as a thriller. This is a film that has Jake Gyllenhaal working overtime as a 911 dispatcher amid an hour and a half runtime. Could the film be longer? Possibly. But for what we have, it’s very capable of having audiences on the edge of their seats. And really, this is the bare minimum that audiences are asking of thrillers. Keep us entertained and on the edge of our seats!
The gist of the film is that it takes place during one morning in a 911 dispatch call center. Joe Baylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) happens to be the operator at the main focus of the film. While there are no shortage of calls coming in, one in particular has our focus: Emily Lighton (Riley Keough). What happens from here on out–well, you’ll just have to see for yourself. But given the film’s title, I suppose you already know what’s going to happen. How the film does largely depends on Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance since he’s carrying the film through and through. Much like Naomi Watts in the Toronto-premiering Lakewood, it’s a one-hander with everyone else mostly speaking from off-screen.
Little by little we learn more about Joe Baylor throughout the film. It all culminates during his conversation with Emily as he tries to talk her out of doing something bad. He mentions something and things start making sense especially his conversation with Sgt. Bill Miller (Ethan Hawke). It seems that Joe would rather be anywhere but at the call center. But hey, tell us you’re making a movie during the pandemic without telling us you’re making a movie during the pandemic. This is why it’s a one-hander–otherwise, you’d be getting a film with minimal cast and scenes that are framed in a way in which the audience knows it’s a pandemic movie. Too many people would just send a bad vibe but that’s a story for another day. What will never not amaze me about all of this is how directors are directing from a completely different room!
At the end of the day, Jake Gyllenhaal answering phone calls will have you on the edge of your seat while watching The Guilty.
DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua
SCREENWRITER: Nic Pizzolatto
CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Christina Vidal Mitchell, Eli Goree, Da’vine Joy Randolph, David Castañeda, with Paul Dano and Peter Sarsgaard