On the surface, “The Guilty” presents us with the assumptions we make about others. Director Antoine Fuqua and star Jake Gyllenhaal provide a real-time suspense-thriller about a 9-11 operator in Los Angeles. From the trailer, we realize that we never see the faces of the callers. Instead, we are close-up on Joe’s (Gyllenhaal) face as he listens closely, makes assumptions about the caller, and acts.
With prior movie knowledge, we know that any character who only blindly makes assumptions about others is headed for a rude awakening. Yet, everyday we make assumptions about other people, some we don’t even come into contact with. As we know from reality and movies, this can have disastrous effects. “The Guilty” puts this notion at its forefront.
What you don’t see in the trailer is the confines of the shooting space, as the film was made in only 11 days, from one location. With the crew wrapped in plastic, cameras covered, and zoom launched, Fuqua and Gyllenhaal were able to achieve their vision. The two invited their friends, including Ethan Hawke and Riley Keough, to play the callers. With the many actors positioned around the globe, each waited to phone in to the main location. The takes lasted about 30-minutes this way with each caller waiting to interact. This made the dependence on Gyllenhaal’s performance more intrusive and his frustrations play out naturally onscreen. However, Gyllenhaal’s track record of eccentric and unhinged characters is quite impressive.
Though Zoom played a large part in connecting the actors and have them all be “present on set,” and even allowed for a re-direction of the film. I think we can all agree that nothing compares to a team of movie-lovers coming together to make something special. This short but difficult process gives hope to aspiring filmmakers, such as myself. The pandemic has proven that if the message or vision is worth making, then it will get done. While the film may not be exactly what was idealized, there’s no doubt that Fuqua and Gyllenhaal are pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
His acting skills coupled with Fuqua’s direction and vision should result in an intense and engaging commentary. “The Guilty” will stream on Netflix on Sept 24, 2022.