film reel image

film reel image

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Guilty 2021 * * * 1/2 Stars


2021's The Guilty is my latest write-up. The film's title doesn't exactly come to fruition until the end. Most of the way I figured I was watching 911: The Movie

So yeah, "Guilty" is one of this year's best. A lot of people contribute but it's a bruising character study for actor Jake Gyllenhaal, a one-man show if you will. As 911 operator Joe Baylor, Gyllenhaal lets us feel his nerve endings with every close-up by director Antoine Fuqua. Abraded tour de force, well that's an understatement. 

The Guilty I guess, represents something along the lines of 2013's Locke (a flick I have yet to see but have seen clips of) and 2018's Searching (a flick I have seen and enjoyed immensely). "Guilty" is also COVID-19 ready as it was shot solely in the eye of the pandemic (November 2020). The actors of which there are few of, become socially distanced whereby they're never really near each other. Helmer Fuqua instead opts for the proverbial "violence of the mind". It's what you don't see but discern that really creeps you out. 

Harboring a cast of rattled voices on the other end of a telephone line (Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano) and filmed primarily in one location (an intricately detailed 911 call center), "Guilty" chronicles LAPD officer turned demoted 911 operator Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal). Baylor is being demoted because he's awaiting trial for a manslaughter charge while on duty. Throughout "Guilty", Joe has to navigate a disturbing call concerning the abduction of a wife by a distraught husband. 

The Guilty has a twist I didn't see coming, a mean-spirited/downtrodden approach, an involved attention to detail, and tension that's 10 inches thick. Antoine Fuqua feels right at home with "Guilty's" camouflaged LA vibe and well, that's his old stomping ground (remember Training Day?). Basically if you don't check out The Guilty you'll feel "guilty" for not doing so. Natch. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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