The Guilty [Grade: B-]

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Story By: Nic Pizzolatto

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Riley Keough, Peter Sarsgaard, Eli Goree, and Christiana Montoya

* * *

Jake Gyllenhaal gave a strong performance, but not sure the story actually supports him well, and possibly missed an opportunity to elevate the meaning of his character.  

* * *

Below are my grades for key components in #TheGuilty that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development. 

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: B-

Plot & Story: B-

Pacing: A

Character Arc/Development: C-

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Interesting Enough

Gyllenhaal Fans: Worth the Watch

Thriller Fans: Interesting Enough

Film Enthusiasts: Don’t Rush

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. Let’s get the good out the way—the pacing. The film does a pretty decent job keeping you attentive—whether it’s because  you really want to understand what the hell is Joe’s problem (which is anticlimactic), or because you end up invested in the “call” that sets this story in motion (and Jake Gyllenhaal definitely does a great job with delivering this character).👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

2. Jake’s acting, though lacking direction due to the writing, was superb! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

3. Um… Rick sounded CUUUUUUUTE! 👀😍

4. That moment of realization! 🤭🤭👍🏾

5. I found the film’s messaging to focus on “truths/honesty and consequences”—holding the truth can resort to consequences (physical and/or mental), or accepting consequences because of your truths. The opening quote helped anchor the message, Jake’s character actually embodied the idea once it was all said and done, and Act Three solidifies it. 👍🏾

I think my issue with the delivery of this message is that the character’s role in its fruition isn’t as flushed out. Yeah once the  film ends you can see how Joe was an active representation of the theme, but during the film Joe’s characterization felt forcefully strange and seemed to have more to do with him just being an obnoxious and unprofessional dispatcher. Additionally, his “bodily behaviors” were attributed to the wildfires which sort of takes away from the symbolism for me—I’d rather they just let the actions just escalate over the course of the film. 🤷🏾‍♂️

6. Speaking of the character, Joe was pretty static for a film that attempted to have a little depth in terms of its suspense. This is what damaged Joe’s arc more than anything for me.

I felt his primary trait was way too hostile to the point where I questioned why and how a department would have him as a dispatcher. Is it really like that? Can it be like that? If so, that is very alarming to know about those we trust to ensure our safety.  

Now the development…I could accept, but not with satisfaction because of the different events of the arc—I.e. how he reached his development felt forced. 🥴

7. Now this wasn’t better than The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, but these “phone call supporting actors” have been rather fascinating to experience in film.👍🏾

8. Soooo… it’s been 8 months, and he’s still working there like that? Absolutely not! 🤨🤦🏾‍♂️

9. The Guilty is a story about an officer on suspension as a dispatcher who answers a call that takes him on an unexpected and horrific journey of investigation and discovery. 

For the most part, the story was pretty well executed. The second half of Act Two and all of Act Three are definitely the strengths of the plot, with Act One picking up towards the second half rather quickly to set the main plot in motion thanks to pacing. 👍🏾

However, Joe’s personal story was lackluster, and at times felt like an interruption to the flow of the main plot. Not only was it pretty obvious, but it felt pretty obvious while also feeling discomfortingly safe—like writers didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, or didn’t quite know how to tackle the perspective of this character with the context, or had a different agenda about leveling the “corruption playing field”… 🥴

10. Yeah…that ending was “blah…” I didn’t like Joe enough to care what happened or how he “grew/changed…”🥴🤷🏾‍♂️

* * *

Overall #TheGuilty gives 9-1-1- meets – The Call – meets Baby Blues (this isn’t the exact connection I had in mind…but it’s close enough).

In all transparency, I wasn’t really interested in watching this film at all. I literally just felt the need to check something out, and noticed it was #5 on Netflix. I wouldn’t say I was completely satisfied with my viewing, but the second half of the film definitely helped the film exceed my expectation a bit. I do wonder what the original version looks like (I think it is a Danish film). 

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