Is The Guilty based on a true story? What is the Netflix movie based on?

The Guilty, a Netflix movie set in an LAPD dispatch station, is a gripping thriller. A policeman relegated to 911 calls during the night shift finds himself embroiled in the kidnapping of a woman and tries to do everything in his power to save her while being unable to leave his office. The tense narrative follows the process painstakingly, with every pitfall and victory turning into a pivotal event on which the woman's life hangs.

The movie also gives glimpses of a chaotic city where history unfolds, with police overwhelmed by raging forest fires, uprisings, and criminal follies. The central figure is also a very imperfect individual who puts a lot of his emotional baggage into the case and makes some critical mistakes in his handling of it. Unlike most thrillers, this one dramatically blurs the line between "good" and "bad" and takes on a more realistic and morally gray tone. Could The Guilty be based on a true story? We decided to find out.

Is The Guilty based on a true story?

No, The Guilty is not based on a true story. The movie is a remake of the critically acclaimed 2018 Danish movie of the same name, directed by Gustav Möller, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the original with Emil Nygaard Albertsen. He first got the idea for the movie after studying an actual 911 call in which he felt he could see the victim and his situation. Imagining how the situation would appear differently to different observers, he decided to make a movie based on the concept.

Möller, therefore, based his narrative on detailed soundscapes, forcing viewers to conjure up their images of what they thought was happening. Interestingly, he was also inspired by the very popular real crime podcast "Serial". The movie's taut frame, long shots, and a single character's perspective were inspired by movies like Doggy Day and Taxi Driver.

The adaptation, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the principal character, closely follows the original, although director Antoine Fuqua and screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto added details to make the film's setting more authentic. Set amid raging California wildfires and with a subplot centered on unchecked police brutality, there are plenty of topical issues as the backdrop. In fact, despite his steadfast goal of saving the victim, Gyllenhaal's character is also a study of how the police sometimes mishandle situations. The movie ends with a case of police brutality, emphasizing the theme of the critical mistakes sometimes made by law enforcement.

However, the fact that we see things from a law enforcement officer's perspective also gives the movie a sympathetic tone. The public witnesses the high-pressure situations to which the police are subjected, in which they bring their emotional baggage and prejudices. Therefore, the central character of the movie is not so much a hero as a flawed individual who seeks to fix what he can but largely fails.

Based largely on the character of Gyllenhaal, the remake went into production after the actor approached Fuqua to direct the script in a quick 10-11 day schedule. At first skeptical, the director then let himself be drawn into the narrative and accepted the project. The lead actor also helped write the script, and the movies shot, as pictured, in one location just before an impending lockdown.

Möller's The Guilty was designed to explore a cinematic directing technique that makes audiences imagine tense situations instead of portraying them. In its remake, the movie has taken on more socially relevant and topical aspects but remains detached from any sharp social commentary. Although inspired by real-life situations, its characters and plot are fictional and are intended to represent particular aspects of reality rather than tell a true story.

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