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The Guilty Scene That Makes Us Love Jake Gyllenhaal Even More

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

From start to finish, "The Guilty" is a showcase of Jake Gyllenhaal's seminal talents. And since the actor commands the screen solo for most of this intense thriller, he truly carries the weight of this film on his shoulders. 

Gyllenhaal stars in the movie as Joe Baylor, a short-tempered police officer who's been assigned to emergency dispatch duty as he awaits a court trial that will determine his future. Joe's night of manning a 911 response line is bound to be intense from the start, what with all of the wildfires raging throughout Los Angeles in addition to the myriad crimes in progress. But things become particularly heated when he receives a distress call from a woman named Emily Lighton (Riley Keough). Though Joe is annoyed with, and even dismissive of, his unwanted duties while moonlighting at the call center, he takes a very special interest in Emily's case. 

Gyllenhaal is electric throughout "The Guilty," as he brings out so many shades of the character's personality and past throughout the night. But when it comes to truly showcasing Gyllenhaal's passionate performance, we've got to highlight the scene when Joe first receives the fateful call that changes everything and sets the pace for the action ahead. Here's the scene from "The Guilty" that makes us love Jake Gyllenhaal even more.

Dial tone

It's clear from the very beginning of "The Guilty" that Joe Baylor has no interest in answering these emergency calls, now or ever. Gyllenhaal portrays him as haughty and easily frustrated with the parade of help-seekers that dial in at the start of the evening. The fact that the in-house coffee is sludgy and running low doesn't help improve his mood much, of course, but there's much more percolating in his mind than that. As we can infer from his brief but loaded exchanges with a colleague and a journalist — along with his desperation to speak with his daughter — Joe is clearly in some deep trouble at work and at home. So at first, he's quick to judge and even belittle the people who call in asking for assistance out of sheer frustration with his own life.

And that's exactly what he does when he first answers Emily's call. In this moment, Gyllenhaal is still portraying Joe with some short-fused fury and a dangerous layer of distraction. So when he hears her tiny, confusing voice that seems to be addressing a child, he suspects he's being pranked and quickly moves to hang up. But once he hears a second voice in the background of the call, things click into place, and the sense of realization is written all over Gyllenhaal's face.

As distant and unmoved as Joe was with callers before, the change is instant when he realizes that he may be dealing with an abduction. His entire presence becomes more serious and invested, and he quickly works to collect as much information from Emily as possible, all while encouraging her to talk in code so as not to alert her apparent captor. All the while, he attempts to communicate what he knows and needs with a California Highway Patrol dispatcher, in hopes that he can help the authorities reach Emily while he's still on the line.

You rang?

Audiences have certainly witnessed Gyllenhaal's ability to turn his emotional state on a dime before. In fact, it's Gyllenhaal's ability to jump headfirst to some severe emotional depths that makes him a standout in some of his greatest hits, like "Brokeback Mountain," "Jarhead," "Prisoners," and "Nocturnal Animals," just to name a few. We've also seen his characters use their wits, coordination, and sheer determination to take command of their situations, as in films like "Zodiac" and "Source Code." And here, we get to see the best of both worlds. Gyllenhaal's Joe snaps into action to cleverly communicate with Emily, but he also lets his innate irritability come back into play while dealing with the exhausted highway patrol resources.

Of course, this scene is just a small taste of the emotional floodgates that Gyllenhaal opens throughout "The Guilty." In the scenes that follow this one, Joe becomes increasingly obsessed and personally invested in Emily's plight and goes to extraordinary lengths to reconnect with her and anyone else who might be able to help him track her down. Though he's literally stuck at a desk the whole time, Joe utilizes his professional contacts to command his own rescue mission from a distance. And audiences are in for an emotional rollercoaster right alongside Joe as some very, very dark truths come to light about both this harrowing case and his own past.

By the end of Joe's experience in "The Guilty," he is simply no longer the same person he was at the start of the story, and Gyllenhaal's performance is captivating throughout every twist and turn of this gripping thriller.