Swede as a nut

It may not roll off the tongue easily but The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared is a delight to behold.

IF you took away the mawkish US cheese of Forrest Gump and scrubbed it with Scandinavian functionality and cleanliness, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out His Window and Disappeared might be the result. As laden with charm and wit as it is with syllables in its title, Felix Herngren’s adaptation of the Jonas Jonasson novel is a self-effacing cinema event as only the Swedish could muster. 

It’s hard to know at the start where things will go as we watch oldtimer Allan Karlsson (Swedish comedy star Robert Gustafsson) vengefully blowing up a fox who killed his beloved cat before being chucked in a nursing home. Fed up with things on his 100th birthday, he shuffles out the window and into a hot-potch adventure of vicious gangsters, new friends and tag-alongs, and a circus elephant.

Blissfully unaware of the seriousness of any situation he finds himself, Allan regularly looks back on his long and eventful life and how his interest in munitions brought him to key junctures in world history and seats at the dinner table with the likes of Oppenheimer, Franco and Stalin. 

These elaborate flashbacks – having a knees-up with Stalin, trying to escape a gulag with Einstein’s dim-witted twin brother – supply Herngren’s film with a high belly-laugh quotient, the dotty humour and Gustafsson’s shrugging tone proving irresistible. In the background, a soundtrack of bubbling brass and some lively cinematography keep the fires of mischief lit.

Daft and delightful.

First published in the Sunday Independent

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Published by

Hilary A White

Dublin-based arts journalist and reviewer, specialising in film, books, music and human-interest stories. Sunday Independent / Irish Independent / State.ie / RTE Radio 1 / Today FM

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