An offbeat black comedy of sorts, Flicker’s collection of oddball characters inhabit a world that’s only a slight exaggeration of our own.
Primarily concerned with the employees of electricity company Unicom and their friends and family, Patrik Eklund’s debut feature rarely induces guffaws yet features a subtle humour just beneath the surface. Jacob Nordenson plays office worker Kenneth who faces a seemingly never-ending run of bad luck with computers, whilst the cleaner Birgitta (Anki Larsson), is trying to conquer her paralysing fear of spiders. Jimmy Lindström and Olle Sarri play Roland and Jörgen respectively, a couple of electrical engineers who are victims of a serious accident whilst in the course of their duties, whilst alcoholic Unicom boss Tord (Kjell Bergqvist) is perpetually trying to impress his father, now dead but staring at him expectantly from the portrait on the office wall.
As Flicker plays out, the lives of these and many more characters intersect in strange and sometimes surprising ways, as Unicom moves towards the next big step in its network: 4G. Throw in some useless workers from the IT department and some anti-electricity saboteurs and you have a film that unfortunately confuses quirky for nonsensical. Some of the turning points for the characters make little sense. Tord, in particular, does a couple of about-faces that are never really explained, whilst Roland’s wife goes from loving to selfishly cruel and back to loving again in an incredibly unnatural fashion.
Technically, this is quite a well-made film. The sound design is sometimes gauche in its attempts to be dynamic, but the cinematography is beautiful. The set design comprises sterile greys and browns, but manages to be warm at the same time. Slow motion is used to great effect in several sequences, whilst the colour grading is particularly striking.
Flicker feels like it’s aiming somewhere in between a Coen Brothers film and the work of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, but instead comes off as a mildly amusing film of little consequence. The characters are idiosyncratic without ever feeling more than caricatures, and despite the escalation of chaos, proceedings never reach the pinnacle of ridiculousness I felt they should. Some may find the film alternately hilarious and emotionally touching, but for me it wasn’t successful enough in either of these endeavours. Instead, I chuckled occasionally and found the characterisations shallow. For me, Flicker was a curiosity rather than anything truly memorable.Rating: