Another excellent film screened last night at this year’s 29th Liffe. The Guilty (Den skyldige in Danish) by Gustav Möller is a slightly unusual thriller whose minimalistic use of a single set makes it stand out from the excellent, well-night proverbial ‘Scandinavian’ crime films. But if these tend to be highly dynamic, Möller’s feature debut belongs to that small minority of films that do not strive to thrill audiences by showing grossly disfigured bodies or even piles of dead bodies, for good measure. Actress Jessica Dinnage addressed the viewers prior to the screening: “I hope you’ve got somebody to hold your hand during the movie. Enjoy!” She then joined us for a post-screening Q&A with member of the Liffe Programme Board, cultural sociologist and film critic Tina Poglajen. The film is based on true events, a real 911 call from a woman talking to an operator in code. The policemen would all really prefer field work, helping at the crime scene, but sometimes this is impossible – as the film shows – also on account of their professional errors, in which the young filmmaker takes a special interest. He was also fascinated by the unorthodox relationship that develops between the two main characters. The single set, most probably a compromise resulting from the tight budget, does not devaluate the film, quite the contrary, it allows the viewers to get intimately involved and closely identify with the protagonist.
The film generates nail-biting suspense, with characters that are not typecast, but problematic and true-to-life. The film does not operate with clichés and simplifications and does not reduce the reasons for tragic events to some abstract and banal evil. The protagonist – and the viewers through him – develops a more complex understanding of crime and guilt, deeper empathy and greater self-criticism. The actress explained that the role had been something entirely new, different from both theatre and cinema, because she had had to concentrate only on the convincingness and expressive nuances of her voice. That provided her with both freedom and challenge; she had to find the right balance, to avoid succumbing to exaggeration. Which was no easy feat, given that she had to express both sound and unsound mind, claustrophobia and fear for her life, as well as a sense of guilt.
You can still catch another screening of The Guilty on Thursday, 15 November, at 19.00 in Kino Šiška; as it’s not graphically explicit we can recommend it also to younger audiences.
Photo Iztok Dimc