Parents' Guide to

The Guilty

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Language, descriptions of violence in tense remake.

Movie R 2021 90 minutes
The Guilty Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

Tense, upsetting remake has tons of language and disturbing content

The Guilty (2021) follows a distraught 911 operator attempting to aid a kidnapped woman. Throughout expect strong language and auditory violence. VIOLENCE: MILD Plenty of violence can be heard over phone call and other disturbing things are revealed as well. Nothing is shown, only heard. These things include a severely injured, presumed dead baby (we hear about blood splatters, “snakes” in his stomach) however it is revealed he is okay later on, a woman grabs a hand brake and the phone suddenly hangs up, we hear about a man panicking while on speed, we hear a few brief fights and violent arguments, a woman is heard attacking a man with a brick before the phone suddenly hangs up, we hear about a 6 year old girl covered in her baby brothers blood, we hear about a woman covered in her babies and husbands blood, we briefly see cops approaching a car with a gun. LANGUAGE: SEVERE Around 59 uses of “f*ck” which is near constant with the films hour and a half run time along with frequent use of “sh*t” and infrequent use of “b*tch”, “a**hole”, “hell” and “damn”. Nearly all the language is used in a strong, aggressive manner which makes each use of profanity hit harder. DRUG CONTENT: MILD We hear a man overdosing on speed and panicking saying he cannot breath. The 911 operator asks if he shot up or snorted the drug before he hangs up in panic. A 911 operator asks several people if they drank or did drugs. SEXUAL CONTENT: MILD A man is mugged by a prostitution beard over phone call, he describes the woman very specifically telling the 911 operator she is “voluptuous” and he is concerned his wife will find out. Non-graphic, brief. OVERALL: 13+ for language throughout and intense sequences
age 10+


A lot of swearing nice detail not to bad no blood no nothing but swearing

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Dark in subject matter as well as aesthetics, Antoine Fuqua's remake of Danish film Den Skyldige transfers the tense thriller to Los Angeles. But LA is seen only in televised images and maps in The Guilty, which is set entirely in a police dispatch office. Instead, the city of extremes lies just outside the window. Like the violence communicated via 911 calls, it's suggested and overheard rather than seen, which lets the viewer imagine it and adds to the tension. The film cleverly employs light, sound, and the single moody office setting to render the state of mind of Jake Gyllenhaal's Joe Baylor. The tightly-wound detective clearly has anger issues, and he also seems to be suffering from severe stress, all of which Gyllenhaal -- the camera's solitary focus for 90 minutes -- sweats and flexes through. The film depends on his ability to sustain this tension convincingly.

Meanwhile, the enigma behind his character's circumstances parallels the mystery he's unraveling in 911 calls from an apparently abducted woman. Nothing is as it seems. Fuqua puts viewers at unease from the start, opening on Joe struggling for breath in a cold, white bathroom. Joe returns to his post in a blue-black dispatch office lit by computer screens, desk lamps, and dim light filtering in through half-closed blinds. On a wall of television screens, images of wildfires blaze across LA. Only when Joe seems to find a semblance of peace do the glowing fires appear extinguished. Most of the time, he can barely contain his angst. Ambient noises come and go, replaced by muffled sounds, echoing, or ringing, as if we are inside Joe's head. The voices behind the calls are played by well-known actors like Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, and Peter Sarsgaard, but none are seen on screen. The snippets of their panicked calls are meant to disquiet. They weave a devastating story that broaches contemporary topics like police violence and social inequities, and one which only clears up -- like the skies over Los Angeles -- at the end of the movie.

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