The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared*1
Cert: 15 / 114 mins / Dir. Felix Herngren
Ponderous without being self-indulgent, quirky without being twee, Felix Herngren assembles a centenarian and an expanding array of waifs and strays, gangsters, neo-n*zi bikers, plus an elephant. By the time you bolt on a solid mcguffin in the shape of a suitcase full of cash, it's like an episode of Last Of The Summer Wine written and directed by Guy Ritchie.
Never less than smile-inducingly enjoyable, Robert Gustafsson's Allan ably narrates the way through this English/Swedish mishap fable. The narrative following the case containing the SEK50m (that's fifty million Swedish krona, which I thought would look better abbreviated, then instantly doubted once it was typed, although not to the point where I'd replace it and remove the need for this parenthesis) leads off on a series of flashbacks in which Allan tells us of his childhood, adolescence and ultimately his role as a munitions expert and key-player in more than a few of the twentieth century's primary military events.
The pacing between the two strands is a little uneven however, almost as if the film can't decide which one it should be dedicating its time to, which is a shame as they're each compelling, individually. The film which this results in often feels like Forrest Gump With Dynamite.
The crucial element of the outlandish screenplay is its humour, which can often be derailed in foreign language*2 films by subtitles removing (or at least crucially altering) the timing. Thankfully, the similarity in vocal-tone between the languages, along with the fact that the majority of the jokes are dry deadpan, means that it translates very well for an English-speaking audience (although the woman two rows behind me seemed to be finding it far funnier than I suspect even the writers intended. Fair play).
Herngren's supporting cast all do him credit, although it feels like Alan 'Brick-Top' Ford is a little out of place; especially as he's playing the same shouty-gangster we've seen work so well elsewhere. After Cockneys vs Zombies, it appears that Ford has finally parked up in typecasting Hell…
What 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man' lacks in narrative direction, it makes up for in curiosity, floating between intriguing and delightful.
Worth watching if you've ever wanted to see an elephant kill a skinhead by sitting on his head.
That's what you'll get, yes.
Well, judging by the Wiki entry for the book (which I haven't read, admittedly) it's been heavily trimmed in places, so I'm not altogether sure. It's certainly 'good', but I suspect the book will be better.
Flicks if you can, but you won't lose much by watching it on DVD.
I will, but not for a while.
There BLOODY WELL IS, as well. When Allan's breaking out of the Gulag camp..
Does the young-look of Allain remind you of Stellan Skarsgård? Is it just me? Am I being inadvertently racist for even mentioning that?
*1 The poster says "Climbed Out Of The Window", but the film's title-card says "Climbed Out The Window". Whatever.
*2 I know how snobbish (and/or reverse-snobbish) that sounds if you haven't seen the film. The narration takes place in English, but the present-day 'action' in Swedish, and this is where the bulk of the comedy lies. It works well, trust me.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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