Director: Patrik Eklund
Writer: Patrik Eklund
Cast: Jacob Nordenson, Anki Larsson, Kjell Bergqvist
A touching Swedish comedy centred on a small town telecommunications company, Flicker is the debut feature from Oscar-nominated short film director, Patrik Eklund. When a power cut causes a blackout across the town of Backberga, it sparks into motion a chain of events which comes to affect each of Unicom’s offbeat employees.
With a strong cast and superbly drawn characters, Flicker cannot fail to impress as it flits between them. Jacob Nordenson is wonderful as the central character, Kenneth, a hapless ‘Ted Danson lookalike’ who endearingly struggles with computers, romance and financial reports. He gives a nuanced performance, creating a character that is ridiculous yet unmistakably human. Kenneth develops a moving relationship with the office cleaner, Birgitta (Anki Larsson), which epitomises the warmth of the comedy and results in many of film’s finest scenes. Birgitta also suffers from arachnophobia, an unfortunate condition in her line of work. The idea is perfectly realised and inventively utilised, along with virtually everything else in Flicker.
There is a motif of electricity running throughout the film, and Eklund plays on its conducive effect as well as its tendency to disconnect. Our dependence on technology is satirised in some quite unexpected ways, particularly when the film moves effortlessly into the anarchistic world of electro-hypersensitivity. The accident at the beginning of the film involving the two electrical engineers, Roland and Jörgen (Jimmy Lindström and Olle Sarri), proves to be the catalyst for two intriguing subplots, one tragic and one hilarious. The trappings of the modern world, particularly in the corporate environment, also come into focus, as the older generation struggle to adapt their image to fit the new requirements.
Each of the segments is excellent in its own right, but Flicker’s main flaw is that there is just too much going on. Every character, every storyline, is so rich that it demands a little more time than it is given, and, occasionally, scenes are unnecessarily spliced together or simply feel rushed. It is testament to the film’s depth that this is an issue, but it means we are not as connected to the characters as they deserve. The attention that has evidently been put into creating them is not quite reflected in their screen time, perhaps the only hint of Eklund’s inexperience in making feature films. Flicker never feels disjointed – everything revolves seamlessly around the Unicom hub – but it would have benefitted from being slightly longer.
Despite this minor issue, Flicker is a beautifully written, affecting comedy, littered with fine performances and unexpected twists. Like the bizarre wax candles that Kenneth lovingly crafts, it is undoubtedly silly but warm and natural with a lot of heart.