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Sweden 2014
Directed by
Felix Herngren
114 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Jumped Out Of The Window And Disappeared

Synopsis: Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustaffson) has been placed in an old age home after he blows up a fox which has eaten his beloved cat. All his life Allan has had a penchant for blowing things up, and this passion has led him to have a rich and fascinating life in which he has been witness to, and even part of many famous historical events.  Naturally he now finds life with the oldies somewhat boring, and on his 100th birthday decides to do a runner. His adventures resume as he inadvertently makes off with a suitcase belonging to a bikie gang. What follows is a madcap adventure in which everyone is chasing Allan and the motley band of friends he picks up along the way.

Felix Herngren's film, based on a best-selling novel, is a mixture of deliciously wicked, and occasionally politically incorrect humour with a goodly dollop of farce. The story of a nobody, or perhaps an unholy fool, who becomes part of major historical events is not particularly original. We saw it in Forrest Gump, but thankfully this film eschews the schmaltz. Rather, it is the distaff version and is steeped in black humour.

After Allan’s escape from the retirement home, the action comes on swiftly and relentlessly. In between the bizarre present-day goings on, Allan’s voice-over introducies various periods of his younger life and what he has learned from them. He reflects upon his childhood, peppered with numerous scenes of him blowing up everything from a matrioska doll to a hapless (but not undeserving) fellow who chooses to take a pee in the place Allan has set up his latest experiment. He reflects upon the vicissitudes of life that led him through the Spanish Civil War in which he saves Franco's life, through to encounters with Stalin and Robert Oppenheimer, helping the latter sort out some problems in the design of the A-bomb. All these characters are played not so much satirically as farcically. Albert Einstein’s “less clever” twin brother, Herbert, is played for some especially good laughs as is a ludicrous scene involving Reagan, Gorbachev and the Berlin Wall.

Just as eccentric are the cast of characters in Allan’s present-day adventure. The bikie thugs are menacing but hilariously inept. Stationmaster Julius (Iwar Wirklander), Allan’s first tag-along friend, is a terrific foil for our main hero, who seems to coast through everything in an impassively accepting and sometimes dismissive fashion. Other companions are Benny (David Wiberg), an indecisive young fellow who has “almost completed" dozens of university courses, and a young woman, Gunilla (Mia Skaringer), who happens to have an elephant as a pet. Needless to say the elephant figures large in some exceptionally silly scenes. Capping it off is a Cockney crime boss (Alan Ford, well-known from Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels) who has a major interest in teh money-filled suitcase which has inadvertently come into Allan's possession and which the bikies are trying to retrieve from him.

Timing is everything in this sort of comedy and for my tastes it is done to perfection. There are plenty of those delicious moments when you are teased with the anticipation what is coming but enough of the sudden unexpected surprises to up the fun quotient.  Notable too are the top-notch make-up effects. Rarely have I seen progressive aging done so well and realistically although Robert Gustaffson who play Allen over the years gives an en excellent performance.

For me the film worked wonderfully, except perhaps for a slightly anti-climactic and excesssively contrived ending. 




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