Danny is out at a club having a night out: talking to girls, dancing, drinking. But amid his blithe enjoyment, he is attacked in the restroom.
The attack is swift but brutal, leaving Danny with visible injuries and a deep feeling of unsettledness. Life continues, and his friends brush the attack off as the night's collateral damage, even chuffing him about his wounds. Danny himself carries on as if the attack hasn't affected him. But deep within himself, the reality is much different.
In this dramatic short -- directed by Luke Daly and Nathan Fagan from a script written by Fagan -- Danny is first portrayed like any typical young man going out, hanging with friends, and meeting girls. There's a captivating hedonistic energy in the filmmaking, created with gritty naturalistic cinematography, hypnotic lighting and editing rhythms that woozily careen from one sensation to the next. Danny's life as a twentysomething Dubliner is an enjoyable blur, full of drink, drugs and women.
But after the pivotal event of the attack, the film shifts into a more interior space, as Danny resumes his daily routines. There's a more muted quality in the storytelling and visuals, capturing Danny in moments of lassitude and disengagement. These quieter moments are layered with more scenes of partying and carousing, revealing a carefully observed narrative that becomes increasingly psychological in focus. The impact of the attack on Danny can't just be ignored or brushed off, and he is haunted by its repercussions. But there's no space in his life, culture or community for him to deal with his feelings.
Actor Peter Newington deftly captures Danny's slow disintegration from a carefree young man to someone haunted by unacknowledged suffering, and the performance is especially poignant in capturing how men often stuff down their emotions under an unbothered stoicism. Even when a conversation with a friend offers an opening to unburden himself, Danny keeps it close to his chest. Yet this self-erasure has its repercussions, and Danny is triggered by the flickering lights that remind him of his attack. As the pressure inside him builds, Danny finds himself on the verge of exploding, culminating in violence of his own.
"Flicker" is beautifully crafted, capturing the contemporary energy of a young person's Dublin in an entrancing blur of dance music, alluring lights and a haze of pleasing faces. But that sociological wide lens narrows, shifting the film into a penetrating character portrait of a young man grappling with a slow-burning yet incendiary internal crisis. Danny's attack is portrayed as a brutal, visceral event, one that lingers in the memory. But the silence and stoicism asked of men around trauma, suffering and pain exerts its own injuries. As we watch the powerful conclusion of the film, its raw, heartwrenching impact speaks to the pain of carrying trauma alone. But it also provokes thought about the importance of openness and vulnerability around men's mental health, with its unique pressures and obstacles.