On the Line
Jan 23, 2024
Victoria Lucie, Thomas Bliss, Joanne Rogers, Royce Pierreson
A telephone operator desperately tries to resolve a life-and-death situation.
The year is 1964 and the location is Alderney. Soon-to-be-married Agnes (Lucie) works as a switchboard operator and she has just started her shift. It is not long before she receives a call from a woman named Martha (Rogers), who appears to be in danger. Agnes notifies the police and they pursue the matter. However, as Martha makes more distressing calls, Agnes will eventually decide that the authorities are not moving fast enough and she goes to great lengths to save Martha's life.
The plot of this feature thriller might seem familiar to some, as it resembles films such as the 2021 thriller The Guilty and the 2016 TV Movie The Watchman. Like these two movies, the story is about a person who do a job that involves being in a place where they communicate with the public and the authorities and they find themselves dealing with a potentially lethal issue. Also like these two movies, suspense and tension are two things that make this one a thrilling viewing. Throughout the film, Agnes frantically attempts to help the police locate the poor woman, who is on the road with a man named Harold (Pierreson), who appears to be dangerous, while simultaneously asking her fiance, Frank (Bliss) to help assist in the case. As time goes by, more and more clues come to light regarding the situation with Martha, making it apparent that things are very serious.
The entire narrative takes place in Agnes' workplace, with her interacting with the telephone switchboard as she communicates with people over the phone. Since she is the only person seen in the feature, Lucie's performance is vital in order for the film to work and she achieves superbly by portraying the vivid emotions that her character goes through. Agnes is a strong woman who is willing to make the impossible possible in order to help people in need and she has a sympathetic side which is clear when she comforts an elderly woman (Harriet Walter) over the phone.
The ominous, tense and dramatic score by Matthew Collings contributes significantly in creating the right atmosphere, along with Jonathan Nicol's moody cinematography. Director Oliver Pearn also deserves commendations for the well-executed long takes.
This is a tense race-against-the-clock thriller with an intriguing plot, nail-biting moments and it also has its emotional scenes. It is a story about danger, desperation and bravery, it is about a woman's frantic attempts to save a life and it keeps the viewer in suspense from start to finish.