'WHEN THE LIGHTS STOP FLASHING'
- Directed by Pedram Khoshbakht -
While returning home, an old man notices that the lock at his door is broken. The flashing lights leads him to a journey in his conscience, where he is experiencing his deepest fears.
There is only a small leap from fear to obsession; from a strange detail to a whole new level of reality. The settings of the everyday life turn into a prison for the main character and he needs to explore the hidden layers of his own mind in order to find a way of escaping. We felt that this film could stand as an alternative interpretation of Plato’s allegory of the cave; the old man is the freed prisoner that has to face the anxiety of the unknown, when removed from the reality he was familiar with and immersed into an entirely different one. From our point of view, When the lights stop flashing grasped a very important aspect of a good film because it managed to support a good idea with good quality technical aspects of the filmmaking process.
CHARACTERS AND ACTING
Naser Khoshbakht did a tremendous job in giving life to the powerful emotions of the central character. His figure is contoured only through gestures and expressions, remaining silent through the entire film, with the exception of two laconic phone conversations. However, it is worth mentioning that the complexity of a role resides also in the interaction with other characters, dialogue or monologue, or the diversity and intensity of the feelings experienced and from this angle, this role was not very elaborate.
The cinematography set tends to impress, from camera movement to DOP light choice and colorization. The great attention to details and the variety of filming techniques are key elements in developing the story. For example, when the old man is reaching back home to find the lock open, the camera does a barrel roll, turning the picture upside down, in order to accentuate a turning point of the story.
We were also impressed by the mixture between light and shadow, central symbols of the film. Warm tones fusion with dark angles, creating a mysterious, overwhelming feeling. We particularly liked the scene when a passing car throws the man’s shadow on the building.
MUSIC AND SOUNDS
While there is not much to say about the music, as it was present only on a few scenes where higher tension was needed, the sounds were essential elements in the story telling. Very precise and clearly delimited- the creak of the door, the whir of the bag, the breathing- every sound carried a symbol, either triggering specific moments, or symetrically connecting points of time in the film.
Overall, we appreciated that the work of Pedram Khoshbakht, as a director, writer and producer of this film, as he managed to create an intense and complex experience, using a remarkable variety of filmmaking techniques. When the lights stop flashing is mysterious, mind challenging and expressive, turning the ordinary into a journey that crosses the bounderies of unenduring feelings and understanding.