The Guilty ★★★★

On its face, "The Guilty" seems like a less exploitative, foreign-language version of "The Call." In that disposable whatsit from a few years back, Halle Berry's 911 operator with a bad break in her past had to save someone from a serial killer. While "The Guilty" is not without its vice-grip urgency, suspense and surprise, co-writer / director Gustav Möller's stunning debut feature is more concerned with something no Hollywood spin would attempt: Making us wonder enough about our hero to rattle us about our rooting interest.

Asger (Jakob Cedergren, not quite in the rarefied air of Tom Hardy in "Locke," but close) seems like an awfully judgmental 911 operator at the start, scolding one guy for getting himself into this mess with drugs, judging another for getting what he deserved by hitting the red light district. Not only do we find out why as it pertains to Asger's personality, but judgment - and the ways we intrinsically assess individuals and incidents with incomplete information - becomes the very impetus for "The Guilty." It's clear that maybe Asger isn't good at this because it's a temporary reassignment to ride out and that he's desperate to look good in light of something bad. And yet his facility for spotting a situation of trouble is quick, his inclinations toward instinct over procedure seem so right. What's a bent rule if it will help save a family, right? It turns out to be a more trying temp job than Asger ever expected, and by the end Möller lends an unexpected, and perhaps immovable, weight to Asger's line: "No, I assigned it to myself."

Through this gauntlet, Asger's judgment clouds and clears, and for all of "The Guilty's" narrative turns, it's not out to dazzle you with its deceptions. In fact, thinking so highly of yourself for getting out in front of it could be a film critic's Rorschach test. Here's a film gripping in what transpires but also generously unsettling in letting it reverberate and rattle around in our mind. It's a film of revelations that reckons with them in full and without varnish, seeming to say "Judge not lest ye judge yourself."