The title of this Swedish film refers to both a ticking clock and a time bomb.
The narrative explores angst and despair in the lives of a variety of lovers,
loners, and losers. As despondent schoolboy Micke plans to set his school on
fire, young thugs Jorma and Lasse spend their time at a restaurant bar.
Elsewhere, unscrupulous police officer Niklas conducts some shady transactions.
Throughout the non-chronological film, several characters cross paths with
unpredictable results. The events seen in the film all take place in a 24-hour
Swedish journalist Gunnar Rehlin:
A clever blend of the narrative styles of "Short Cuts"
and "Pulp Fiction," Daniel Alfredson’s "Tic Tac" is one
of the most interesting films to come out of Sweden in a
long time. A refreshing, albeit very dark, look at life
in Stockholm at the end of the ’90s, the film looks to
be limited in box office potential, especially on
foreign soil by its demanding approach, but should be
given a close look by festival programmers worldwide.
Alfredson, son of actor-director Hans Alfredson, has
previously shown considerable promise with several TV
series and a couple of features, most notably the solid
cop thriller “The Man on the Balcony” (1993). “Tic Tac”
is his best work so far. From a complex script by Hans
Renhall, he’s crafted an affecting and fascinating movie
that’s a rare bird — given its multilayered structure —
in the Swedish cinematic forest.
During the course of 24 hours, we meet a bunch of
people. Some know one another, some have profound (and
tragic) influences on the others, some just pass one
another in the street. One is Micke, a desperate young
kid who’s decided to burn his school to the ground.
While pouring petrol in the school’s basement, he meets
Jeanette, a young schoolmate who’s despised by everyone
and has decided to start living on the premises.
We also meet two skinheads, Lasse and Jorma, who have
gone to a restaurant bar to have a couple of beers and
chew over life. The owners are wary of them and ready to
start a fight if provoked. But everything changes when
an immigrant, named Pedro comes in and makes the
skinheads an offer they can’t refuse.
Other characters include the frustrated and angry Kent
and his wife, Ylva, who’s constantly trying to calm him
down. We slowly learn that Kent has been the victim of a
scam — instigated by a cop named Niklas and his pal
Tommy — that has both ruined and crippled him.
It gradually becomes clear that Alfredson is using a
storytelling device similar to that in "Pulp Fiction."
The penny drops in the third reel when we meet Kent
again but this time without the emotional and physical
scars that tortured him earlier in the film. Other
oddities are now explained as well, and the movie
develops into a dark look at life in a town without
Alfredson has aimed high here, and he largely succeeds.
Helped by the reddish-brown lensing of excellent d.p.
Peter Mokrosinski, and the moody music of avant-garde
group Flaskkvartetten, Alfredson paints a Stockholm
that’s full of loners, miserable people, angst and