The Guilty (2018 film)

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The Guilty
The Guilty (2018 film).png
Theatrical release poster
DanishDen skyldige
Directed byGustav Möller
Produced byLina Flint
Screenplay by
  • Gustav Möller
  • Emil Nygaard Albertsen
Music by
  • Carl Coleman
  • Caspar Hesselager
CinematographyJasper J. Spanning
Edited byCarla Luff
Distributed byNordisk Film Distribution
Release date
  • 21 January 2018 (2018-01-21) (Sundance)
  • 14 June 2018 (2018-06-14) (Denmark)
Running time
85 minutes
Box office$3.4 million[1][2]

The Guilty (Danish: Den skyldige) is a 2018 Danish thriller film co-written and directed by Gustav Möller.[3] It was screened in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.[4] The film was distributed in the U.S. by Magnolia Pictures.[5] It was selected as the Danish submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards,[6][7][8] making the December shortlist.[9] An American remake will star Jake Gyllenhaal.[10]


Asger Holm, a Copenhagen police officer awaiting a hearing for shooting and killing a 19-year-old man, is assigned to answer emergency calls at the Emergency East desk. On the evening before the hearing, he receives a call from a woman named Iben Østergård, who does not say she has an emergency and acts as if she is talking to a child. Initially about to hang up, Asger guesses the distressed Iben is not alone and asks her yes and no questions; she discreetly reveals she has been abducted but explicitly mentions a white van. Tracing the call by the nearest cellphone tower, Asger calls the North Zealand station to tell them to look for a white van driving north. The North Zealand dispatcher tells him this is not enough information and a licence plate number and specific location are required. Asger talks to the North Zealand patrol car, who pull over a light-coloured van but let it go when no woman is found inside.

Becoming absorbed in the case, Asger looks up information about Iben Østergård and finds a home telephone number, calling it. Iben's six year old daughter Mathilde answers. Mathilde says her father Michael Berg was at the house, despite being separated from Iben, and drives a white van. Michael had gone into the room of Mathilde's baby brother Oliver and shouted, apparently at Oliver, Mathilde says. Michael then grabbed Iben and left with her. Mathilde also gives Asger her father's phone number. Asger tells Mathilde to go look after her baby brother and calls North Zealand to have police sent over to Iben's house to check on Mathilde and Oliver; he learns Michael has a criminal record.

Night shift arrives and though technically off the job, Asger moves into a separate room to continue following Iben's case. Intermittently, Asger speaks again to Iben, who says she does not want to be locked up. He also speaks to the police at the Østergård house, who find Mathilde is covered in blood. The officers check Oliver's room and find the baby has been cut open and is deceased. Asger is devastated, and asks his colleague Rashid to break into Michael's house for clues as to his destination. We learn that Asger and Rashid conspired to give false testimony at the hearing, which worries Rashid. After deliberating, Asger phones Michael's number and argues with him, with Asger shouting Michael should be executed.

The van is heading to Elsinore, and Asger speaks again to Iben. Worried that Michael might kill Iben, Asger instructs Iben to hit Michael with a brick. Iben says Oliver is fine now and no longer crying. Asger asks her what she means, and Iben says Oliver had snakes in his stomach and was crying, so she cut them out to help him. The call is disconnected, leaving Asger in shock. Asger receives a call from Rashid at Michael's house, who finds records showing Michael lost visitation rights due to his criminal record, while Iben spent time in a psychiatric hospital in Elsinore. Asger realizes Michael was taking Iben to the hospital because she unknowingly killed their son. He tells Rashid not to lie at the hearing and calls Michael again, who says Iben hit him and escaped. Asger receives another call from Iben, who is about to jump off a bridge, after realizing she killed her son. He confesses to her he shot a man and it was not in self-defense, but he says unlike him he knows Iben did not mean to harm anyone. With the noise of police officers approaching, Asger urges her to surrender to them. He speaks again to North Zealand, who confirm they have Iben and congratulate him on his work. He gets up from his desk and slowly walks away while his colleagues, who heard his confession to Iben, watch in disbelief.



Critical reception[edit]

The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 98% based on 111 reviews, and an average rating of 7.96/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Sleek, well-acted, and intelligently crafted, The Guilty is a high-concept thriller that wrings maximum impact out of a handful of basic—and effective—ingredients."[11] Metacritic assigned the film a normalized score of 83 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[12]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Austin Film Critics Association 7 January 2019 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [13]
Bodil Awards 2 March 2019 Best Danish Film Gustav Möller Nominated [14][15]
Best Actor Jakob Cedergren Won
Blockbuster Talent Gustav Möller Won
National Board of Review 27 November 2018 Top 5 Foreign Language Films Won [16]
Satellite Awards 17 February 2019 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [17]
St. Louis Film Critics Association 16 December 2018 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Guilty". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Den Skyldige". The Numbers. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  3. ^ Naderzad, Ali. ""The Guilty," from Denmark, goes to the Oscars". Screen Comment. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Variety Media, LLC. 29 November 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  5. ^ Lang, Brent (23 January 2018). "Sundance: Magnolia Buys 'The Guilty'". Variety. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Danmarks bedste bud på en Oscar: En nervepirrende thriller med titlen: 'Den skyldige'". Politiken. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  7. ^ Holdsworth, Nick (20 September 2018). "Oscars: Denmark Selects 'The Guilty' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  8. ^ Abbatescianni, Davide (21 September 2018). "The Guilty enters the Oscars race for Denmark, Woman at War for Iceland". Cineuropa. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Academy Unveils 2019 Oscar Shortlists". The Hollywood Reporter. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  10. ^ Kroll, Justin (10 December 2018). "Jake Gyllenhaal to Star in Remake of Denmark's Oscar Entry 'The Guilty' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  11. ^ "The Guilty (Den skyldige) (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  12. ^ "The Guilty Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  13. ^ Whittaker, Richard (28 December 2018). "Austin Film Critics Release 2018 Awards Nominee Lists". Austin Chronicle. Archived from the original on 31 December 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Bodilprisen 2019 – og de nominerede er…". 11 January 2019. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  15. ^ Wind-Friis, Lea (2 March 2019). "Voldtægtsfilm af debutant blev den store vinder til Bodil-festen". Politiken (in Danish). Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  16. ^ Sharf, Zack (27 November 2018). "National Board of Review 2018 Winners: 'Green Book' Named Best Film, Lady Gaga Best Actress". Indiewire. Archived from the original on 27 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  17. ^ "2018 Nominations Ballot" (PDF). International Press Academy. 28 November 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 November 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  18. ^ "Annual StLFCA Awards". St. Louis Film Critics Association. 9 December 2018. Archived from the original on 10 December 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.

External links[edit]