Today’s post will also be somewhat on the short side. Reason being is that I wish to write a second post to go out hopefully later tonight, if not tomorrow morning.
Blinkende lygter, or Flickering Lights in English, is a film I discovered while looking through the filmography of Mads Mikkelsen. I did state that I wished to expand my film-viewing choices to that of things outside the English language—how about Danish? This had solid reviews and, again, featured Mikkelsen, an actor I respect. Sure, I’ll give it a shot.
“A gang of 4 Danish criminals are ordered by Færingen to steal a bag from a safe. When they see DKK4,000,000 in the bag, they keep it for themselves and head for Spain. They end up in a ruin of an old restaurant on Funen and renovate it.” – IMDb
(Not many trailers for this one.)
I don’t know much about this particular director, but he and Mads seem to be frequent collaborators. Doing a little research into his films, Anders Thomas Jensen seems to specialize in dark comedies; I’ve enjoyed those from time to time. That said, Flickering Lights was labeled by my specific streaming service as “Comedy” and “Drama.” I definitely saw one of these things…
More than anything, the contents here are messy. There are bits of drama, bits of comedy, bits of introspection, and some shades of social commentary. What it lacks is tying them all together in a way that provides impact. As it is, the events within reminded me of Annihilation, where a majority of the characters were fairly one-note and had one specific trauma attached to them that the film explored in a manufactured manner.
Flickering Lights doesn’t come off as very natural. Sure, the idea that four gangsters on the run finding an abandoned house in the middle of the woods with a briefcase containing boatloads of money is certainly unrealistic, how the story unfolds rarely helps. These men are bonded by a long history of being together—yet they have very little chemistry with one another. Convenience also rears its terrible head on a couple occasions.
This is a dumbed down version of this film, condensed to a cleanly checklist:
- One character has an issue.
- After reaching a near-boiling point, they have a flashback sequence that elaborates on their upbringing.
- They have an epiphany and do something within present time that brings them some personal respite.
- They don’t really do anything for the rest of the film.
Not exactly like that with all of them, but it’s a good portion of what occurs during the grittier parts, not obfuscated by the general plot of starting over. Characters have their moment to shine and then kind of drift along with whatever. It’s like when they no longer have any strife, they become boring. That’s no fun!
Even with this, I do give the film credit for certain ambitions (probably) that came across as witty. One flashback (I won’t mention whom) features a teenager berated by his mother for eating apples off of his father’s tree. This family of three shares a single room, and the son begs and pleads constantly for his own room. After continuing to eat apples off the tree, his mother berates him by saying, “Don’t you know that people need something to call their own?” Perhaps parents should practice what they preach, no?
Bits and pieces of similar framing can be seen throughout. Heavy implications that bad people are made from bad parenting, and that treating people and things with love is what life should be. The performances by each cast member embellish this by their behavior towards specific triggers. It’s slightly psychological… only not generally cleanly.
Very middling and all over the place. Flickering Lights has some intriguing value to the humanization of criminal minds, though it’s presented in a blunt and unsophisticated manner that comes across as cheap. For the most part, I was pretty bored. Even a younger Mads Mikkelsen couldn’t really do much for what’s an otherwise average film.
Final Score: 5/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!
Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.