The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window & Disappeared (Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann) looks set to divide people. The reason for this is because your enjoyment of the film hinges on whether you warm to the centenarian lead character. Ultimately, this film is full of dark humour (which also won’t appeal to everyone) and while unpretentious, at times it is far too ramshackle, free-wheeling and rambling to really cut through.
The film is an adaptation of Jonas Jonasson’s popular novel and is directed by Felix Herngren (who doubles as the movie’s scriptwriter along with Hans Ingemansson). It also stars comedian and actor, Robert Gustafsson as Allan Karlsson. Gustafsson has been described as “The funniest man in Sweden” (and in real-life is only 50 years old). The story itself is like a poor man’s Forrest Gump, as the main protagonist ruminates about meeting key figures from history (including General Franco, Joseph Stalin and even Albert Einstein’s dim-witted brother, Herbert). This provides the back-story to his crazed, adventurous life that continues to the present day.
The story itself begins with Karlsson being sent to a nursing home after he blew up an animal. He is then faced with the possibility of a sickly-sweet party for his 100th birthday. But rather than stay for the festivities, he goes with his instincts of “It’s never too late to start over”. So he escapes from the window and this triggers a series of increasingly unlikely events.
First Karlsson arrives at a bus station where he buys a ticket to the furthest town he can afford. Before he boards the bus he meets a biker who asks the old man to mind his suitcase. In a predictable scene, Karlsson’s transport arrives too soon so the old man leaves with the biker’s luggage, even though he didn’t realise there was a small fortune inside. This causes a pursuit that was not unlike It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World as the gang try to retrieve the lost money while Karlsson befriends a cast of weird characters (including an elephant!) who imagine how to spend the money.
The film is a comedy but some people may find the jokes dated and not that funny. The oddball, main character is also a drunk, dynamite-loving, part-inventor of the atomic bomb and he is difficult to warm too. If anything, the film feels overstuffed and overdone as it jumps around in a series of increasingly clunky flashbacks starring key figures from history (some of the episodes have only tenuous links to the present day) and the scenes occasionally flip between Swedish dialogue and English voiceovers.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window & Disappeared is bold in its parade of deadpan and crazed weirdos and eccentrics. It will also confound every one of your expectations. But ultimately it is too out there, busy and niche to appeal to everyone. In short, this slow, absurdist adventure and bold film is an uneven, over-the-top and wild ride that feels like a series of missed opportunities.
Originally published on 26 August 2014 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2014/08/26/film-review-the-100-year-old-man-who-climbed-out-the-window-disappeared-sweden-croatia-2013/
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