The culprit – SLUG magazine
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Nine Stories Productions and Fuqua Films
Streaming on Netflix 10.01
There are directors whose name on a film always arouses some interest in me. Antoine Fuqua, the director of the guilty, is one of them. But that doesn’t always mean you can count on them to deliver a good movie. Fuqua’s career has probably had more big hiccups than hits, the latter being the terrible Infinite just earlier this year.
the guilty takes place over a single morning at a 9-1-1 dispatch call center. Joe Baylor (Jake gyllenhaal), a police officer, suspended while under investigation following a serious incident, works as a telephone operator, a job he finds tedious and unworthy. But when Baylor gets a call from a woman named Emily (voiced by Riley keough, Lucky logan) who was kidnapped, his instincts as an officer kick in and he does everything he can to try to find and keep her alive. But as the night progresses and blood pressure levels rise, it becomes too clear that everything is more complicated than Baylor imagines.
the guilty is Fuqua’s strongest film since Equalizer in 2014, with a tight rhythm, a lot of claustrophobic atmosphere and an impeccable editing by Jason ballantine (Gatsby the magnificent, This). Fuqua knows how to execute a slow suspense build well, and part of the credit goes to Nic Pizzolatto-the Real detective scribe has a knack for intelligent dialogue. While the guilty is a remake of Gustav Möllerthe Danish language film of 2018, Den skyldige, Pizzolatto and Fuqua tout clever and very current elements of American history, such as the addition of the California wildfire complication.
If there is one person who deserves congratulations above all for the work of the film, it is Gyllenhaal, the producer / star who brought Fuqua to the project and who gives an intense and emotionally charged performance that anchors the film. Gyllenhaal brings the kind of brash, mischievous, young hero-cop quality that Keanu reeves had in Speed, but the character ends up having a lot more advantage. It’s a daring performance that could possibly be a contender for an Oscar nomination.
Gyllenhaal is ably supported by Keough, who gives a captivating and nuanced performance despite never being seen onscreen. The same goes for the rest of the vocal cast, which includes Ethan hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Bill burr and Paul Dano. And if there is anyone who even surpasses Gyllenhaal, it’s young Christiana Montoya (A place on the ground) as the voice of Abby, Emily’s daughter.
the guilty isn’t a perfect movie, but like all minimalist movies made quickly during the pandemic, it arguably makes the best use of restrictions, turning them into strengths rather than weaknesses. There are some pretty disturbing elements in it, and I’m including a trigger warning: if you’re a sensitive parent who can’t handle anything that involves children at risk, you might want to approach this one with some caution. Always, the guilty is a satisfying thriller that dares to tackle topical themes. It’s a nice bounce piece for Fuqua, and she gets a recommendation from me. –Patrick gibbs