TIFF 2021: The Guilty dir. Antoine Fuqua

Jake Gyllenhaal leaves it all on the screen when he steps into the role of Joe for Antoine Fuqua’s North American remake of the Danish thriller.

On screen for almost all of the film’s hour and a half runtime, we are trapped with Joe as he serves as a 911 operator while his performance in an officer involved shooting is reviewed.

As calls come in he tries to deal as best he can, but stress, loss of his family, separation from his daughter and one terrifying call are going to make his night, and the viewer buckles up and rides along.

Fuqua has proven time and again that he is a master, and while I’m not always a fan of remakes the commentaries here on mental health and policing are too important to give the film a miss.

What Fuqua and Gyllenhaal deliver is a high tension film that happens all with sound and Gyllenhaal’s tour de force performance that is as beautifully and emotionally raw as it comes.

Tight pacing and frantic dialogue guide us through one night in Joe’s life that will change him forever and Fuqua’s use of a single location gives the film an almost claustrophobic aspect as we, along with Joe, work to resolve the situation.

There is a tense helplessness that runs through the film as Joe refuses to simply be bystander and it brings to the fore important questions on the role policing plays, accountability and the need for mental health wellness on both sides of the thin blue line.

The Guilty screens at TIFF in person on Monday and digitally on Saturday.

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