The Guilty parents guide

The Guilty Parent Guide

This is a taut, clever thriller whose narrow confines serve to increase the tension.

Overall C+

Netflix: A cop demoted to being a 911 operator receives a phone call from a woman in peril and promises to do all he can to help her. But he makes some mistakes along the way.

Release date October 1, 2021

Violence C+
Sexual Content B
Profanity D
Substance Use C+

Why is The Guilty rated R? The MPAA rated The Guilty R for language throughout

Run Time: 90 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Once a detective with the LAPD, Joe Baylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) is now under investigation and has been reassigned to the 911 call center until his trial. Between the fires raging around the city and the usual criminality of the residents of LA, the phones are always busy. One crisis in particular attracts Joe’s attention: a young woman named Emily (Riley Keough) has called in, seemingly talking to a child – but when Joe asks a few more questions, he learns that she’s been abducted by her boyfriend, Henry (Peter Sarsgaard) and is desperate for emergency assistance. The subterfuge is necessary to keep Henry from becoming suspicious, but is also limits the kind of information Emily can provide, which in turn limits the options Joe has to help. And as Joe tries to save her, he’s forced to confront his anger, the limits of his abilities, and his own past…

Ever wanted to watch Jake Gyllenhaal have the better part of a mental breakdown in real time? Then this is the film for you! Based on a Dutch film of the same name, The Guilty tests Gyllenhaal’s emotional range, and unsurprisingly, finds him more than up to the task. As the film goes on, Gyllenhaal is forced to explore more and more of this character, and the work he puts in is evident on screen.

I’m also a big fan of the limited environment. Without the benefit of other locations, the story has to become more focused. The only information that comes into the call center is, by nature, urgent, and this forces the filmmakers to pick only information that is relevant either to the story or the development of the characters. This also means that it’s much easier to maintain tension since the audience is, essentially, just as blind to the realities of the situation as Joe is.

As the film occurs entirely within the bounds of the 911 dispatch center, almost none of the content concerns happen on screen, which does make this more suitable for a broader audience – until the profanity comes in. With 61 f-bombs in 90 minutes, this is not going to be a movie for those with delicate ears. If that’s the case, you’re probably also not going to be wild about some of the things being described over the phone, either. But if you’re looking for a very capable, tense, and emotional thriller, you’re going to be hard pressed to find one with less objectionable content. Or one with more Jake Gyllenhaal.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Riley Keough, Peter Sarsgaard. Running time: 90 minutes. Theatrical release October 1, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for The Guilty

The Guilty
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Guilty rated R? The Guilty is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout

Violence: There are references to violence and descriptions of assaults, a shooting, and infanticide, none of which are seen on-screen.
Sexual Content: There are references to prostitution.
Profanity: There are 61 extreme profanities, 14 scatological terms, and frequent use of terms of deity. There are also occasional mild profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There are references to drinking and methamphetamine with no on-screen appearance or use.

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The Guilty Parents' Guide

What is Joe accused of? How do the events of the film change his perspective on his situation? What consequences will this change have on his life? It has proven difficult to charge police officers with crimes in real life. Why is that? What are some recent examples? How do you think that system needs to change? What do your local representatives have to say about the issue? Does that reflect your values?

Home Video

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Jake Gyllenhaal can be seen playing a similar police officer in End of Watch. Other stress-filled performances from Gyllenhaal include Zodiac, Source Code, Prisoners, and Nightcrawler. Younger audiences may prefer his performances in Spider-Man: Far From Homeor October Sky. Fans of films in confined sets may enjoy Rear Window, 12 Angry Men, Lifeboat, Locke, 7500, Flightplan, or Panic Room.