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Film / Flickering Lights

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Flickering Lights (Blinkende Lygter) is a Danish Black Comedy film from 2000, written and directed by Anders Thomas Jensen, and starring Søren Pilmark, Ulrich Thomsen, Mads Mikkelsen, and Nikolaj Lie Kaas.

The story centers around a four man group of low-level gangsters from Copenhagen: Thorkild (Pilmark), The Leader of the small group who is struggling with an on-coming mid-life crisis, Peter (Thomsen), who suffers from a crippling drug addiction, Arne (Mikkelsen), a rather unpredictable Gun Nut, and Stefan (Kaas), a somewhat spineless Yes-Man and Big Eater. Indebted to the feared mobster known as "The Faroese", Thorkild and his gang is given a job by said mobster to commit a break-in, steal four million Danish kroner, and then bring them to him. The group, however, decides that they would rather keep the money for themselves, planning to escape to Barcelona after the heist. Their plans, however, go south as Peter gets shot during the break-in, and they are forced to take hiding in in the Danish countryside, in a run-down, abandoned house in the middle of a forest near a small village, to allow Peter to recover.


After weeks in hiding, Thorkild decides he rather likes the place the gang are hiding in and uses the stolen money to officially buy the house and turn it to a restaurant, offering the other gang members to be employed as staff, something they react to with varying degrees of reluctance. The whole thing create tensions within the group, and their respective Dark and Troubled Pasts starts bubbling to the surface. And of course, there is also the small matter of the Faroese and his men hunting for them...



  • The Alcoholic: Dr. Karl and later Peter. They even bound over this as the doctor shows Peter how to cool down beer by digging down stashes of them around the countryside.
  • Addiction Displacement: Downplayed. Peter gets over his drug addiction... by becoming The Alcoholic instead. However, this is played as a significant improvement, and Peter becomes much more helpful and easy to deal with afterwards.
  • Big Damn Heroes: As the gang is held at gunpoint by the furious Faroese and his men, Alfred busts into the restaurant and saves them by shooting the gangsters to bits.
  • Bros Before Hoes: Stefan is initially successfully pressured by his girlfriend into leave the gang behind, but when he ends up realizing that the gang are his True Companions, he turns around.
  • Functional Addict: Notably averted with Peter, who is effectively The Load to the gang because of his drug addiction making him unpredictable and constantly desperate for more drugs, to the point where he almost gives their location away by calling his pusher. It is to the point that when he replaces his drug addiction with an alcohol addiction it is actually an improvement as he becomes notably more stable afterwards.
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  • Frontier Doctor: Dr. Karl fits the bill, being the resident doctor in a small country town. He even has several of the flaws associated with the trope, such as being The Alcoholic and gladly accepting a bribe from the gang to keep his treatment of Peter a secret.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Peter is forced into this, as Thorkild, having had enough of his addiction bringing them into trouble, locks him into the walk-in freezer of the house to rehabilitate him.
  • Gun Nut: Arne really likes guns and is quite knowledgable about the subject. He bounds with Alfred who shares a similar obsession.
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: Not so generic in the ethnic department though, seeing how they are Faroese.
  • I Choose to Stay: Thorkild decides that he wants to make something of his own, so he decides to try give up the life of crime, take up permanent residence in the hideout, and turn it into a restaurant. His decision are initially met with varying degrees of scepticism by the other members of the gang, but they all gradually come around to the idea and discover that they actually would like to stay too.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Averted, the cow Arne is shown shooting was killed for real, although the actual killing was carried out by a stuntman who was a trained vet.
  • Mugging the Monster: Two young men, who are clearly new to the whole crime thing, try to rob the restaurant. Arne, a hardened criminal, just coldly laughs at their pathetic attempt before delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on one of them, and it is obvious he would have killed them both if Thorkild hadn't held him back.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Alfred seems to believe this, asking Arne if he has never shot someone for real and how it felt in a intrigued tone. Notably, after his Big Damn Heroes moment where he shoots and kills the Faroese and his gang, he is notably shocked by the event and becomes somewhat subdued and quiet afterwards.
  • Title Drop: The group decides that they should name their restaurant "Blinkende Lygter" after a poem, which they misattribute to the poet Ove Ditlevsen (actually the poet's name is Tove Ditlevsen. Some mice bit off the T on the front page, but none of the guys are cultured enough to know any better).
  • True Companions: The gang have been friends since their youth, and despite their disagreements they deeply care about each other. This is especially true for Stefan, who, after remembering a speech by his grandfather about the importance of family, decides he sees the group as his true family and comes back to help them against the Faroese and his men.
  • Villain Protagonists: All of the four main characters, though all they decide to go straight with the opening of the restaurant.


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