I remember one night in 2014 sitting in my Myrtle Beach apartment watching a movie called “Locke.” Even after seven years it still sticks out to me for one major reason: The entire film took place in a car.
To add even more to the solitude of “Locke,” there was only one character on-screen the entire time. This particular person happened to be the talented Tom Hardy as he played the role of a construction foreman making a desperate 90-minute drive to be present at the birth of a child conceived from a one night stand. Throughout the film he engages in numerous phone conversations with people ranging from his wife to his mistress to his son to his co-workers to medical personnel.
If I realized the entire film would unfold in a car, I probably would not have rented it (yes, it was in 2014 and I got it from a Redbox). Nonetheless, I ended up enjoying the movie. However, with that said, my preference moving forward was still to watch films with multiple settings and on-screen actors.
Fast forward to October 2021 and I found myself watching a similar conceptualized movie. Sidney and I gave Jake Gyllenhaal’s Netflix movie “The Guilty” a shot…and we were glad we did. In the film, Gyllenhaal is an LAPD officer demoted to 911 operator as he faces litigation. Clues for why he was given his new assignment and why he is in hot water are revealed throughout the film but it doesn’t come full circle until the end.
As you may have guessed, “The Guilty” takes place entirely in the 911 call center. Compared to “Locke” it almost seems like “The Guilty” boasts an ensemble of on-screen actors but you really only see a few of Gyllenhaal’s new 911 co-workers.
The plot revolves around a call Gyllenhaal receives from a woman who appears to have been kidnapped. As the movie rolls on, Gyllenhaal employs unconventional strategies to save the woman, secure her kids, and neutralize the kidnapper. We were on the edge of our seats the entire time.
But again, just like with “Locke,” I don’t know if I would have been so enthusiastic to watch it if I knew the whole movie took place in the 911 call center. With this the second movie that turned out to be quite good, I think I might have to adjust my attitude when it comes to these types of films. Perhaps I don’t give my attention span enough credit. I have a preconceived notion that I need beautiful landscapes, special effects, and a cast of rotating characters to make a film worth watching. That has proven to be wrong.
However, I have a feeling it has less to do with my concentration than it does with superb acting. Both Hardy and Gyllenhaal gave outstanding performances, allowing the unconventional style to thrive and their talents to shine. If you have Netflix, give “The Guilty” a watch.
To all my movie buffs out there, are you familiar with any other films that use a single on-screen actor in a limited setting to tell an engaging story? If so, let me know, I will at the very least Wikipedia it. Don’t Blink.