The title of the latest Swedish cinema hit might have you a little bit tongue-tied, but even in English The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is still a mouthful. Based on the internationally best selling novel by Jonas Jonasson, this film broke local box office records on its opening day and has since been screened in over 40 countries, becoming the highest grossing Swedish film of all time. This improbable story follows the life of centenarian Allan (Robert Gustafsson), who on his 100th birthday climbs out of his nursing home window and embarks on an adventure involving drug dealers, an elephant, and $50 million in cash. With flashbacks throughout, the audience gains an understanding of Allan’s extraordinary past, in which his vast knowledge of dynamite caused him to become a massive influence over the history of Europe and America. Seems pretty unlikely, and, well, it is, but if you’re willing to just roll with it, you might be able to get on-board with Allan’s story.
It took me a while to involve myself in the plot, but the story really is so ridiculous that there is no point questioning it. The best part about this movie is the characters: Allan is a cheeky, old man with a thirst for adventure, who throughout his journey picks up an motley crew consisting of Julius (Iwar Wiklander), another older gentleman with a wicked sense of humour, Benny (David Wiberg) a nervous university student who has studied everything under the sun, but has no degrees to show for it, and Gunilla (Mia Skäringer), a strong young lady with an elephant under her care. Even the ‘villains’ of the story are fun to watch, and all of the performances are comedic and enjoyable.
Director Felix Herngren has done a pretty great job transforming the book into a film without losing any of its kooky charm. But for some reason, I couldn’t wholly get on board with this movie. It might have been the extravagant story line, which involved historical characters such as Stalin, President Truman and Ronald Reagan to name a few, that seemed a little too much for me to process. I also found that a relatively sound knowledge of modern history was necessary if you were to understand all of the references and get the rather high culture sense of humour, of which I am sadly a little lacking.
It might not be up everyone’s alley, but what I think most people can enjoy about The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared is the beautiful scenery, the charming characters and the sense of adventure that permeates this entire film. It is definitely the kind of movie you want to take your Granny to see, as it’s pretty heavily targeted at an older audience, with the war cry that you’re never too old for one more whirlwind adventure.
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