It could be said that cinema is perhaps akin to preparing a highly complicated gourmet dish. The salt, pepper, oregano, and other goodies are the combination of directors, actors, cinematographers, and editors in the film world, where combining the right ingredients can lead to a successful fete, a poor mix ending up as a flop that no one will touch. An example of such cinematic cuisine, is the film The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared.
Apart from being a rather difficult title for any movie house marquee, this 2015 Swedish film directed by Felix Herngren, and based on the novel by Jonas Jonasson, has a wide array of bizarre characters brilliantly merged together, to create a story with a spice of Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump, a dash of Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot, and Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau.
A soon-to-be centenarian, Allan Karlsson is despairingly bored. Unmarried, with no children, his cat Molotov is his only true source of solace and friendship, but the relationship ends tragically when Molotov is savagely killed by a coyote. Something breaks in Allan, who promptly uses a variety of cleverly assembled explosives to blow the coyote to bits.
This is how the film begins, mixing the present with flashbacks of Allan’s youth peppered with off screen narration in the voice of 100 year old Allan re-telling his life story to anyone who will listen. Bitterly disappointed in the lifeless structure of the nursing home, that he forcefully inhabits along with other aging souls who seem to have no further use for life, Allan sets off in an unplanned adventure that begins with the purchase of a train ticket, and the bemused theft of a money-loaded suitcase at the hands of this temerarious olden. The suitcase belongs to a rather uncivilized individual, who unbeknown to Allan, is in fact part of a violent biker gang.
His audience is composed of the people he meets along the way, who are as unhappy and unsettled as Allan. Julius, the friendly Samaritan who saves Allan from the incensed biker, has no friends or family to speak of. Benny is an academic, and the cheerless possessor of a barrage of college credits, but who invariably fails to finish what he starts. Gunilla, the owner of an out of the way wooden house, shares her abode with Sonja the elephant, is lonely and bitterly disappointed in personal relationships. Allan is the center of this eclectic group, collecting them along the way as he has collected stories involving dictator Francisco Franco, Josef Stalin, Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project. As they tread along, running from the bikers and their Brit kingpin, who fiercely wants the suitcase, along with the cumbersome old man who stole it in the first place.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared is Swedish comedy at its very best, following the steps of notable predecessors, such as Ella Lemhagen’s 2010 feature Patrik, Age 1.5, Ruben Ostlund’s 2014 Force Majeure, and Andrea Ohman’s 2010 Simple Simon. With abundant humor and the unsurpassed spark of Swedish comedian Robert Gustafsson, this film incites thought provoking lessons on life and friendship. Without doubt, the escapades of Allan Karlsson and his adventitious group of friends, will leave audiences reflecting on what it really means to grow old while attempting to retain the most valuable of all possible possessions: freedom and a taste for adventure. Bon appetit![amazon template=iframe image&asin=0062329146,1401324649,8498385725]