Flicker

****

Reviewed by: Robert Munro

Flimmer
"A funny, original and often tender début feature from the talented Mr Eklund."

Writer/director Patrik Eklund’s deadpan comedy not only packs in the laughs at regular intervals, it also hits you in the gut every now and then, such is the emotion invested in his haphazard characters.

Set in a small, rather non-descript Swedish town dominated by Unicom - the giant communications company at the heart of it - Flicker depicts the lives of several employees at the company after a mysterious electrical accident. Kenneth (Jacob Nordenson), a mid-level employee who’s responsible for producing the company’s quarterly reports, is perhaps the closest thing we have to have a central protagonist in this interweaving narrative of comic misery. Repeatedly attempting to save and print a report to show the board members, he is beset by a Monty Python-like series of unfortunate and unlikely events which thwart his every attempt at progress. He’s the guy in the dunce cap.

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Then there’s Roland (Jimmy Linström), the bloke up the pylon when the electrical mishap throws him from the mast and puts him in a hospital bed. Told by the doctor that he can no longer have children, Roland has to go back home and figure out how to tell his loving wife, while continuing to renovate his house and build a nursery for the child they've planned to have. His best mate and colleague Aron (Mats Bergman), can’t quite shake the guilty feeling that he may have mucked up the safety checks before Roland started work on the pylon. He develops a curious allergy to electricity which brings him out in blotches and sends him to a maniacal anti-radiation group led by a bloke with a mechanical arm and a desire for destruction.

A stylish and fluid composition adds a distanced irony to the events, with neat transitions and roving camerawork often linking the differing narrative strands. To that end cinematographer David Grehn and production designer Anna Paulson have worked in successful unison with director Eklund to create a unique visual approach which adds an extra dimension to the humour originating from the script. The Unicom building is distinctly Swedish looking, even for those of us who have never visited. All the furnishings and technological equipment look untouched from some early Nineties heyday – part of the joke, of course.

Events tie together neatly throughout, and the coincidences that bestow misfortunate on these poor Swedes end up bringing all of our characters closer to some semblance of happiness by the time the credits roll. A funny, original and often tender début feature from the talented Mr Eklund – who was nominated for an Oscar for his short-film Instead Of Abracadabra in 2010 – and one that marks him out as a filmmaker to keep an eye out for in the future.

Reviewed on: 23 Jun 2012
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When a power cut strikes a small town in Northern Sweden, a chain reaction begins that sees sparks fly and lives change forever.

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EIFF 2012

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