Gyllenhaal delivers a brilliant performance and is able to single-handedly retain the attention of the audience, as the only visible cast member onscreen.
The Guilty is a crime thriller film starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It is a remake of the 2018 Danish film by the same name, which was directed by Gustav Moller. It was directed by Antoine Fuqua with a screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto. Gyllenhaal plays the role of a cop who has been reassigned to the position of a 9-1-1 emergency call dispatcher. The film takes place almost entirely in a single location which is the emergency dispatch center. Gyllenhaal has been praised for his brilliant performance and for being able to single-handedly retain the attention of the audience as the only visible cast member as the whole story unfolds over the phone.
The film also features the voices of Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Eli Goree, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Dano, and Peter Sarsgaard. The film was shot over the course of just 11 days. The movie is a timely one especially with the rise in police brutality and the discourse about the same taking center stage. It is a nail-biter and here is what happens in the end, in detail. So look out for the spoilers ahead.
Joe is a police detective who has been demoted to 911 operator duty because of police brutality charges. As he answers the emergency calls, he is impatient and is quick to lose his temper. Joe is rude and judgemental of the callers for the most part. But then one call manages to catch his attention because it seems to be from a distressed woman in a dangerous situation. The woman, named Emily, pretends to be talking to her daughter and Joe is quickly able to understand that she is trying to mask the call. He then starts asking her yes or no questions to get a better picture of the situation. Before he can get enough information she hangs up.
From his fragmented conversation, he is able to draw the conclusion that the woman was probably kidnapped by a man probably an ex, and also learns that she was in a white van. He then informs the patrol officers about the situation. Joe then calls Emily's six-year-old daughter, Abby who tells him that she is with her younger brother, Oliver, all alone at home and that they were scared. The police officer is now fully invested in this case and goes out of his way to help the woman and her children. In the process, we learn that the call was hardly what it seemed and Joe comes to terms with his inner demons as well.
In the midst of trying to help Emily, Joe is forced to face his past as well. He calls his wife, Jess, to talk to his own daughter. Through this conversation, we learn that Joe's marriage was in shambles and he had separated from his wife six months ago. We also learn that he was a part of a legal trial for whatever was responsible for him to lose his position. He asks his wife if she will be at the trial and also mentions Rick, his friend who would act as the main defense witness. He then calls Rick to ask him to go to Emily's house to help her children.
Throughout the movie, we are looking at the situation from Joe's perspective and his biases. As such, we believe Emily is in danger and her husband, Henry, is the perpetrator. But when Rick goes to their house, the situation is different. Rick finds that Oliver had been killed and was in bed, dead. It is then revealed that Henry was taking Emily away from home to get her psychiatric help and was protecting his kids and not causing harm. It was Emily who had killed her son.
Emily is deeply troubled and tries to jump off a bridge. In order to convince her not to jump, Joe comes clean about his own life and his past as well. Joe tells her that he also had killed someone. He says that he was trying to teach the 19-year-old named Joseph a lesson because he thought he had hurt someone, and in the confusion and anger, he had killed him. We finally learn what had led to Joe's demotion and also something that Joe seems to finally accept. He stops defending himself and acknowledges that he had killed someone for no reason. He tells Emily that her son had managed to survive to convince her to continue living. She does not jump off the bridge.
The next day he gives an interview to a magazine and pleads guilty to all that he was being accused of.