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Monday, September 13, 2021

[TIFF Review] Netflix’s Single-Location Thriller ‘The Guilty’ is a Showcase for Jake Gyllenhaal

The Guilty originated as a critically acclaimed, intense Danish thriller that marked the feature debut by Gustav Möller. A seemingly simple premise set entirely within a single-location frayed nerves thanks to a confluence of impeccable ingredients. So, it’s not surprising that remake rights were snatched up almost immediately. The result is a Jake Gyllenhaal vehicle directed by Antoine Fuqua, which dials up the star quality and injects more drama. While a breathless showcase for Gyllenhaal’s talents, the fairly faithful remake loses some of the hard-hitting edges of the original.

Opening to a wide pan of Los Angeles morning with helicopters overhead and a wildfire blazing on the city’s outskirts, the accompanying sounds of 911 calls drive home the unrest. It then cuts to the inside of a 911 dispatch center, where we meet officer Joe Bayler (Gyllenhaal) in the bathroom using his inhaler to try and soothe his irritated lungs. It’s clear something is bothering him more than poor air quality, though. Joe is a man on the edge and quick-tempered. He sits back down at his desk and cycles through a series of calls with tedium until a woman, Emily (Riley Keough), rings in and discreetly conveys she’s mid-abduction. It sparks an intense and frantic search to find her before it escalates, threatening Joe’s already precarious mental state in the process.

THE GUILTY: JAKE GYLLENHAAL as JOE BAYLER. CR: GLEN WILSON/NETFLIX © 2021.

Much like the original, The Guilty never leaves Gyllenhaal or the dispatch center. It’s a single-location thriller where most of the thrills happen off-screen. That means it’s entirely up to the performances to carry and convey the emotional intensity of what’s happening. And this remake ensures it succeeds with a stacked cast. The Guilty is a showcase for Gyllenhaal as the one on-screen for its entirety, and he’s more than up for the task. While you never see them, Keough, Peter Sarsgaard, Ethan Hawke, and Paul Dano round out the various voices on the other end of Joe’s line. Keough, in particular, shines the brightest for all the distressing and heartbreaking emotions she cycles through, communicated solely through vocal performance.

True Detective writer Nic Pizzolatto faithfully sticks to the main plot points but embellishes Joe’s story to increase his stakes. Joe consistently slinks away from his desk to take personal calls that slowly build a clearer view of why this anxious and volatile police officer is fielding emergency calls and why he’s so invested in saving Emily from his abductor. He’s not just soothing Los Angelenos in distress; he’s brushing off the intrepid press, disappointing his estranged wife, and walking down colleagues from ledges. It’s so much to mentally juggle that it’s no wonder he’s consistently flying off the handle. Gyllenhaal makes it all feel authentic, but once the climax hits, the added emotional weight sags a bit into overwrought territory. The story itself, the intimacy of Emily’s plight, and the dispatcher desperate to save her are more than enough for viewer investment.

Those unfamiliar with the 2018 film will easily get swept up in Fuqua’s latest, which deftly captures the intensity while adding more visual flourish. This is the movie’s target audience. Fans of Möller’s innovative and suspenseful film won’t find much changed, save for a reminder that sometimes less is more.

The Guilty releases in limited theaters on September 24 before coming to Netflix on October 1, 2021.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3682768/tiff-review-single-location-thriller-guilty-showcase-jake-gyllenhaal/

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