There have been a plethora of series (Emergency Call) and films centered around 911 dispatch centers, but never one focusing on a specific operator in single night with one specific call.
As a wildfire rages towards Los Angeles, demoted police officer awaiting a disciplinary hearing, Joe Bayler (Jake Gyllenhaal), winds down a chaotic, yet tedious shift answering emergency calls. His evening is soon interrupted by a cryptic call from a woman (Riley Keough) who is discreetly reporting her own abduction. Working with clues this woman provides , Joe jumps into officer mode using all his skill and intuition towards ensuring her safety. However, as facts slowly unveil, Joe’s own psychological state becomes challenged and he finds himself having to wrestle with demons of his own.
The Guilty is a tour de force film for Jake Gyllenhaal as he is the primary actor seen on screen for the majority of the film with a few exceptions and interruptions from Christina Vidal (Sgt. Denise Wade) and Adrian Martinez (Manny). In my humble opinion, Gyllenhaal may be one of the most underrated talents in our industry! He is 1000% present for every role in every film and this character is no different as he provides us with a man who is complex, vulnerable, manipulative ass in every conceivable way. He’s also just another cop trying to cover up his indiscretions which got him suspended. His performance and collaboration with Fuqua brings back feelings from watching Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in Training Day. This type of intense filmmaking and performance will literally take your breath away and have you holding it all simultaneously.
Every tense moment plays out on Gyllenhaal’s face, as he spars with a dynamic ensemble of voices in his headset throughout the night, including those of Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, and Paul Dano. With an intensely knuckle biting script from Nic Pizzolatto, equally expert directing from Antoine Fuqua and creative crosscut cinematography from Maz Makhani crosscut capturing a montage of monitors broadcasting the inferno outside. while reflecting inner workings of Joe’s world brings to light a a surreal, but all too familiar reflection of our current maddening state of affairs capturing the world we are all inhabiting in this very moment is absolutely spectacular.
Right off the triumphant heels of playing at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Guilty is not to be missed as it currently streams via Netflix.