The 100-Year-old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared
Director: Felix Herngren
Starring: Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg
114 mins; Class 15;
Eden Cinema Release
I don’t think I am totally off the mark if I opine that Swedish cinema and television are currently enjoying a huge burst of popularity that had not been enjoyed since the days of Ingmar Bergman.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series has made huge waves; then we have directors like Lasse Hallström (2000’s Chocolat and the forthcoming The Hundred-Foot Journey) and Tomas Alfredson (2008’s Let the Right One In and 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) forging a career in Hollywood; and finally, we have TV shows like The Bridge and Wallander being successful in both their original versions and their respective US and UK remakes.
Bearing all this in mind, cries of “the Swedish are coming” would not be amiss.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared is a comedy from Sweden that has already made a splash internationally.
This is thanks not only to its ridiculously long title, but also to its protagonist and his quirky adventures.
Comedian Robert Gustafsson, dubbed Sweden’s funniest man, stars in the titular role.
We first meet Allan Karlsson explosively avenging his dead cat at the paws of a predatory fox.
But Allan soon ends up in a nursing home. He is still in rude health and clearly bored.
This film proves that Swedes can really do funny and not just dark, dour and disturbing
So, on his 100th birthday he climbs out of a window in his dressing gown and slippers and heads down to the bus station and buys a ticket out of town.
As he is heading to the bus, a bully of a man asks Allan to look after his suitcase while he uses the bathroom.
Distractedly, Allan takes the suitcase and proceeds to board his bus … not realising that the suitcase is full of cash and the man is a member of a dangerous biker gang who will stop at nothing to get the cash back.
Egged on by their cockney boss yelling instructions and death threats down the phone from Bali, the gang give chase and prove to be completely incompetent. To cap it all, there is an equally- dim police inspector trying to find Allan.
In the meantime, our hero makes friends with an odd assortment of people – and an elephant - who inadvertently get caught up in his adventures.
What makes this film stand out, though, are the many flashbacks we are treated to of Allan’s eccentric and colourful life.
Discovering a love for blowing things up at an early age, he uses his talents wisely, throughout the course of the film meeting the likes of Spanish dictator Franco, Soviet leaders Stalin and Gorbachev and US President Reagan, among many others.
Not that this is a Scandinavian Forrest Gump. In fact, far from it. The humour is droll and occasionally bloody, the situations a tad ridiculous and the overall tone quirky.
The movie is powered by a very funny performance by the 49-year-old Gustafsson, who plays the protagonist from a young age and, with the aid of some exceptional prosthetics, the old man of the title.
Gustafsson plays it straight throughout, with the detached air of someone who thinks everyone around him is a little odd and oblivious to the consequences of his actions.
Director Felix Herngren keeps the pace brisk and the humour constant, bringing together an excellent ensemble of cast of eccentric characters around Gustafsson.
This film proves that the Swedes can really do funny and not just dark, dour and disturbing.
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