November 27, 2018 – The Danish film about a morally conflicted emergency services operator reminded me a lot of another Danish film about a morally conflicted army officer, “A War” (Krigen - 2015). It isn't quite that good because the story doesn't directly confront the issue. It is more of a glancing blow, but the story is still powerful and compelling.
Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren of “Compulsion”) is a police officer temporarily answering phones at an emergency call center, pending a hearing about a person he shot in the line of duty. He takes a call from a woman who has been abducted from her home by her ex-husband, and the tension mounts when he learns a boy has been murdered in the woman's home.
As the drama mounts, we learn more about Holm and his partner, Rashid, and how they plan to lie about the nature of the shooting (to better make the case for self defense) in the next day's hearing. Holm begins to have second thoughts about what he did and how he will testify at the hearing. He asks Rashid to go the ex-husband's house to look for clues as to where he might be taking his ex-wife.
It becomes apparent, as the film goes on, that Holm desperately wants to save the abducted woman, and is willing to break the rules to get this done. It turns out the case of the abducted woman is more complicated that he thought it was. He has made assumptions that are completely wrong. This is shaping up to be a tragedy based on good intentions.
So what are the circumstances of this shooting that Holm and Rashid refer to? Only vague outlines of the shooting are given in the film. What is it about the case of the abducted woman that makes Holm think twice about lying at the upcoming hearing? Perhaps if he can save the life of the abducted woman, that will ease his conscience about the life he took in the shooting. It seems like the only other connection between the two events is that his actions, as a police officer, can have major effects on people's lives.
This film maintains a lot of suspense and drama, despite the fact that visually, almost the entire film consists of Holm talking on the phone. Most of the important characters besides Holm are heard, not seen. In that respect, it reminds me of another effective phone-based movie, “Locke” (2013).
Jakob Cedergren shows more and more emotion, and reveals more about himself as the movie continues on. He reveals more of himself when talking to the abducted woman, Iben (voice of Jessica Dinnage) and her young daughter, Mathilde (voice of Katinka Evers-Jahnsen). Most of the time, his guard is up, but he lets it down when talking to those two.
I didn't think the two story elements, the shooting and the abduction, really meshed that well. The story had believability issues, in that Holm keeps forgetting to update police dispatch on what is happening. This is the kind of omission that can get innocent people killed. Overall, however, the story works. It has emotional power despite the limitations of the setting in which it is filmed. This movie rates a B.
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