Guilty Review: Netflix’s Timely #MeToo Movie Is Let Down by a Terrible End
Kiara Advani delivers alongside Ruchi Narain’s largely solid direction.
While the #MeToo movement recently celebrated its first major conviction in the US, it has largely stalled in India. Except for a few choice cases, nearly everyone who has been accused of sexual abuse, assault, harassment, or misconduct has returned to their profession. Most haven’t even admitted any wrongdoing, let alone work to put themselves on a better path.
Instead, some have actively gone against their accusers with the power of India’s archaic laws. That’s in addition to ingrained misogyny and patriarchal mindsets, which translate into tasteless jokes and tone-deaf responses at its best. This is the environment for Netflix’s newest film from India, Guilty, which is centred around an alleged incident of rape at a prestigious university in the national capital of New Delhi.
Structurally, Guilty — directed by Ruchi Narain (Kal: Yesterday and Tomorrow), off a script by Kanika Dhillon (Manmarziyaan) & Narain, with dialogues by Atika Chouhan (Chhapaak) — works like a mystery movie. Narain told us that she thinks of it as a “whydunnit”, rather than a whodunnit. Guilty features multiple unreliable narrators who paint a picture of the night of the incident, with a third-party trying to put the pieces together.
In that sense, the new Netflix movie is reminiscent of another called Guilty — also on Netflix — though most in India know it as Talvar, the 2015 Meghna Gulzar film based on the 2008 double murder case in the New Delhi satellite city of Noida. Like it, Guilty employs the Rashomon effect, though to a much lesser degree.