Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) is about to celebrate his 100th birthday. He lives in a retirement home and for all intents and purposes, is just your average elder gentleman. But Allan has led a very colourful life – one that had involved explosives, world leaders, war, prison and scientific milestones. So Allan decides to climb out of his window and makes a break for the local train station. Once there, his latest adventure begins involving stolen money, new friends, a giant elephant a bunch of criminals looking for their missing loot.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared as a title is ridiculously absurd. Thankfully that’s exactly what the story is like too! Based on Jonas Jonasson’s hilarious and offbeat novel, The 100 Year Old Man is a glorious ode to story-telling with fantastical characters, hilarious circumstance and an edge-of-your-seat story that will delight you throughout.
Using a distinct visual style and echoing such films as Amelie and even Forrest Gump, the story follows the affable Allan Karlsson through plenty of life-changing encounters. Using history as a colourful playground, our journey begins in the gloriously mundane surroundings of the retirement home. Once Allan decides he’s had enough, we are treated to layer upon layer of crazy characters, situations and comedy that really holds your attention and brings with it plenty of belly-laughs along the way.
The cast are all superb but Robert Gustafsson really shines as Allan Karlsson. It’s his genuine warmth and charisma that takes you through this story. His narration is superb too and always manages to find the humour in the fantastical. His transformation into the 100 year-old man is also done exceptionally well, with the 49-year-old actor doing a tremendous job doubling his age onscreen. The makeup is also very good and convinces much more than movies like Jersey Boys, which made the passage of time just look odd on the faces of their actors. This really convinces and makes for a delightful change.
The supporting actors are all brilliant too with Iwar Wiklander quite excellent as Allan’s unlikely companion. David Wiberg hands in a comedic performance of exceptional subtlety as a man struggling to take that next step in life. His obvious yearning for the rambunctious Mia Skäringer is also well handled with Skäringer a joy to watch too. Jens Hultén plays a local criminal with hapless gusto and Britain’s finest, Alan Ford pops up in a scene-stealing cameo as a Cockney crime boss who wants his missing money.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a real joy and certainly one of the oddest films you’ll see in 2014. With the rise of Swedish cinema, it’s very refreshing to see this have a big release in the UK. Hopefully it will attract a large enough audience for future Swedish movies to hit our mainstream shores. For now just enjoy the madcap tomfoolery of this offbeat gem.