Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
gets a long title for his long life. It was also eventful—and it still is. The man
who blithely stumbled in and out of Stalin’s Kremlin should not have too much
to worry too much about the gang of skinhead biker drug dealers looking for
him. Heck, he hardly knows they’re out there. Instead, life is a bowl of
Swedish meatballs for Allan Karlsson, the titular character of Felix Herngren’s
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the
Window and Disappeared (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York--UPDATE: now opening 5/8.
retirement home is preparing a party for his centennial, but he really isn’t
feeling it. Shimmying out the aperture in question, the oldster finds his way
to the bus stop, where he inadvertently swipes a drug-runner’s suitcase. Since
it is packed with fifty million Euros, he soon has the whole gang after him.
However, Karlsson’s erratic behavior, knowledge of explosives, and blind
stinking luck make him a formidable foe. Soon he joins forces with Julius
Jonsson, a more lucid and irascible senior, as well as commitment-phobic
professional student Benny and Gunilla, a gang member’s ex who is now more
concerned with the elephant she is ferrying about in search of a long-term
Karlsson flashes back to episodes of his unlikely life, including stints on
both sides of the Spanish Civil War, service at Los Alamos assisting
Oppenheimer, befriending Vice President Harry S. Truman, and defecting to and
from the Soviet Union. He was also sterilized at a young age, so no love
interests for him. It also helps explain his unvaryingly blasé attitude towards
his daring exploits.
Window Man brings to mind predecessor films like Zelig and Forest Gump
(you could throw Being There into the
mix as well)—and honestly, it never really steps out of their shadows. Still,
Herngren and co-screenwriter Hans Ingemansson do what they can to differentiate
their adaptation of Jonas Jonasson’s hit novel from comparative films. Wisely,
they play up the subversive slapstick possibilities of Karlsson’s fascination
with explosives. A lot of minor characters die gleefully macabre deaths in Window, giving it the tone and pacing of
a Looney Tunes cartoon.
Gustafsson shows tremendous range, but he is equally distancing as both the
young and awkward Karlsson and his older and even more addled self. Still, he
conveys a sense of comfort and camaraderie with Iwar Wiklander’s Jonsson. Aside
from Alan Ford as the boss with anger management issues, the assorted thugs and
cops are all essentially stock figures and the historical characters are entirely
played as the broadest possible caricatures.
never engages on a deeply emotional level, but
Herngren keeps all the mayhem breezy and upbeat. If you can relax and buy into
all the fortuitous explosions, it offers some laidback fun. Recommended for
those looking for a light weight diversion, The
100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared opens this
Friday (5/1) in New York, at the Village East.
Labels: Scandinavian Cinema