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AUSTIN, Texas—Browsing through written descriptions (whether in this year’s Fantastic Fest brochure or this weekend’s movie listings), The Guilty might sound remarkably unremarkable: a cop on desk duty takes a panicked 9-1-1 call and has to figure out what’s happening. It sounds like a classic high-stakes, detective-against-time story, but what makes its intriguing is that the entire film never leaves the detective’s office—the cinematic equivalent of a bottle episode.
Danish writer/director Gustav Möller has created something special with those constraints, and anyone lucky enough to find The Guilty playing nearby during its limited US theatrical release should take advantage of it. The film feels like a masterclass in minimalism in all aspects, from the way it doles out information to the performance of its lead to the so-good-you-can’t-help-but-notice-it sound design. The Guilty is a film you can’t look away from despite the visuals being its least interesting part.