The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disapeared

THE 100-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED, Sweden, 2013, Starring Robert Gustafsson Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg, Mia Skaringer, Alan Ford. Directed by Felix Herngren. Rated M ( Violence and coarse language), 114 minutes.

This is a title that a customer might have to memorise exactly while going to the box office, especially when this cinema is also screening The Hundred-Foot Journey – even this reviewer, with clarity of diction, was given a ticket for the journey instead of the old man!

The novel has a strong reputation in Scandinavia. And local audiences there have enjoyed the adaptation. For audiences who haven’t read the novel, it probably won’t have the same impact. And the other difficulty would be the particularities of the Scandinavian humour (which another member of the audience stressed that she understood and enjoyed – and it may have been she who chuckled loudly throughout the film).

It is quite a wry story. Which means that it does have its amusing and funny moments, but it was not a hilarious experience.

While there is the contemporary story, the old man, Allan, played by Robert Gustafsson, turning one hundred after he has gone to a residence for the elderly, there are visits to his past. As they prepare his birthday cake, and re-count the candles, he does climb out the window and off he goes. The staff continue to search for him in the residence, the police also pursue him, one being interviewed by the media but, all in all, the film pokes fun at the ineptitude of the officers.

With a limited amount of money in his pocket, he buys a ticket to a small town – but an angry young man demands Allan look after his suitcase while goes into the toilet. But the bus arrives and so off Allan goes with the suitcase – which is the major development of the plot as criminals pursue him in Sweden, with orders by phone from their boss who lives in Bali. The case was full of money.

In the meantime, Allan has made friends with Julius and is introduced to a couple who are involved in a circus and caring for an elephant. There are some elephant jokes, a morbid one when one of the criminals looking for the money is crushed by the elephant. Another criminal is transported to Djibouti where he is killed by suicide bomber. It is that kind of film. Meanwhile, Alan is quite carefree and enjoying his liberty.

All this might have been amusing but there are various flashbacks to Alan’s life and his fascination with explosives. He is also preoccupied with screams, telling of his mother screaming when he was born, that he probably screamed back, that he screamed at his violent father, that he was put into an institution. That might have been enough but, in fact, he goes to Spain, encounters General Franco (very critical of his way of dancing, too feminine), is given the gift of a gun, then finds himself working on a skyscraper in Manhattan where he hears about the Manhattan Project and explosions and goes off to New Mexico where he meets Robert Oppenheimer and gives various theories for the successful exploding of the atomic bomb and is congratulated.

He is then recruited for the Soviet Union by a scientist, encountering Stalin but offending him and relegated to a gulag along with Herbert Einstein, who is the exact opposite, mentally, of his famous brother. After an explosion destroys the Pacific Fleet – which is the death of Stalin - he is in Paris in 1968, is in Washington DC in 1981, talking with President Reagan whose directions about a wall in his garden are taped and listened to by Gorbachev where they interpreted as a hostility towards communism. Unfortunately, this line of flashbacks just peters out. It would have been interesting to bring this train of storytelling to some conclusion, but no.

Back to the present, a gift of a flight to Bali, some more accidents and happy ever after (for however long) for Allan after his birthday.

This is a title that a customer might have to memorise exactly while going to the box office, especially when this cinema is also screening The Hundred-Foot Journey – even this reviewer, with clarity of diction, was given a ticket for the journey instead of the old man!

The novel has a strong reputation in Scandinavia. And local audiences there have enjoyed the adaptation. For audiences who haven’t read the novel, it probably won’t have the same impact. And the other difficulty would be the particularities of the Scandinavian humour (which another member of the audience stressed that she understood and enjoyed – and it may have been she who chuckled loudly throughout the film).

It is quite a wry story. Which means that it does have its amusing and funny moments, but it was not a hilarious experience.

While there is the contemporary story, the old man, Allan, played by Robert Gustafsson, turning one hundred after he has gone to a residence for the elderly, there are visits to his past. As they prepare his birthday cake, and re-count the candles, he does climb out the window and off he goes. The staff continue to search for him in the residence, the police also pursue him, one being interviewed by the media but, all in all, the film pokes fun at the ineptitude of the officers.

With a limited amount of money in his pocket, he buys a ticket to a small town – but an angry young man demands Allan look after his suitcase while goes into the toilet. But the bus arrives and so off Allan goes with the suitcase – which is the major development of the plot as criminals pursue him in Sweden, with orders by phone from their boss who lives in Bali. The case was full of money.

In the meantime, Allan has made friends with Julius and is introduced to a couple who are involved in a circus and caring for an elephant. There are some elephant jokes, a morbid one when one of the criminals looking for the money is crushed by the elephant. Another criminal is transported to Djibouti where he is killed by suicide bomber. It is that kind of film. Meanwhile, Alan is quite carefree and enjoying his liberty.

All this might have been amusing but there are various flashbacks to Alan’s life and his fascination with explosives. He is also preoccupied with screams, telling of his mother screaming when he was born, that he probably screamed back, that he screamed at his violent father, that he was put into an institution. That might have been enough but, in fact, he goes to Spain, encounters General Franco (very critical of his way of dancing, too feminine), is given the gift of a gun, then finds himself working on a skyscraper in Manhattan where he hears about the Manhattan Project and explosions and goes off to New Mexico where he meets Robert Oppenheimer and gives various theories for the successful exploding of the atomic bomb and is congratulated.

He is then recruited for the Soviet Union by a scientist, encountering Stalin but offending him and relegated to a gulag along with Herbert Einstein, who is the exact opposite, mentally, of his famous brother. After an explosion destroys the Pacific Fleet – which is the death of Stalin - he is in Paris in 1968, is in Washington DC in 1981, talking with President Reagan whose directions about a wall in his garden are taped and listened to by Gorbachev where they interpreted as a hostility towards communism. Unfortunately, this line of flashbacks just peters out. It would have been interesting to bring this train of storytelling to some conclusion, but no.

Back to the present, a gift of a flight to Bali, some more accidents and happy ever after (for however long) for Allan after his birthday.

This is a title that a customer might have to memorise exactly while going to the box office, especially when this cinema is also screening The Hundred-Foot Journey – even this reviewer, with clarity of diction, was given a ticket for the journey instead of the old man!

The novel has a strong reputation in Scandinavia. And local audiences there have enjoyed the adaptation. For audiences who haven’t read the novel, it probably won’t have the same impact. And the other difficulty would be the particularities of the Scandinavian humour (which another member of the audience stressed that she understood and enjoyed – and it may have been she who chuckled loudly throughout the film).

It is quite a wry story. Which means that it does have its amusing and funny moments, but it was not a hilarious experience.

While there is the contemporary story, the old man, Allan, played by Robert Gustafsson, turning one hundred after he has gone to a residence for the elderly, there are visits to his past. As they prepare his birthday cake, and re-count the candles, he does climb out the window and off he goes. The staff continue to search for him in the residence, the police also pursue him, one being interviewed by the media but, all in all, the film pokes fun at the ineptitude of the officers.

With a limited amount of money in his pocket, he buys a ticket to a small town – but an angry young man demands Allan look after his suitcase while goes into the toilet. But the bus arrives and so off Allan goes with the suitcase – which is the major development of the plot as criminals pursue him in Sweden, with orders by phone from their boss who lives in Bali. The case was full of money.

In the meantime, Allan has made friends with Julius and is introduced to a couple who are involved in a circus and caring for an elephant. There are some elephant jokes, a morbid one when one of the criminals looking for the money is crushed by the elephant. Another criminal is transported to Djibouti where he is killed by suicide bomber. It is that kind of film. Meanwhile, Alan is quite carefree and enjoying his liberty.

All this might have been amusing but there are various flashbacks to Alan’s life and his fascination with explosives. He is also preoccupied with screams, telling of his mother screaming when he was born, that he probably screamed back, that he screamed at his violent father, that he was put into an institution. That might have been enough but, in fact, he goes to Spain, encounters General Franco (very critical of his way of dancing, too feminine), is given the gift of a gun, then finds himself working on a skyscraper in Manhattan where he hears about the Manhattan Project and explosions and goes off to New Mexico where he meets Robert Oppenheimer and gives various theories for the successful exploding of the atomic bomb and is congratulated.

He is then recruited for the Soviet Union by a scientist, encountering Stalin but offending him and relegated to a gulag along with Herbert Einstein, who is the exact opposite, mentally, of his famous brother. After an explosion destroys the Pacific Fleet – which is the death of Stalin - he is in Paris in 1968, is in Washington DC in 1981, talking with President Reagan whose directions about a wall in his garden are taped and listened to by Gorbachev where they interpreted as a hostility towards communism. Unfortunately, this line of flashbacks just peters out. It would have been interesting to bring this train of storytelling to some conclusion, but no.

Back to the present, a gift of a flight to Bali, some more accidents and happy ever after (for however long) for Allan after his birthday.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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