Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Hundred year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared

In a sense the title says it all - but there is so much more to this black comedy from Sweden about ageing and the remarkable life of Allan Karlsson who is endearingly played by Robert Gustafsson. Wishing to avoid his 100th birthday party in the retirement home in which he lives, Karlsson escapes with just a pocketful of change to begin an adventure every bit as remarkable as his long life.

The film unwinds at a gentle pace and as it does so, different episodes allow Karlsson to recount past chapters in his life which resonate with the here and now in some way. In this way the film is biographical and charts Karlsson's life and the completely unlikely range of people he has met. I'm not going to say anything more about the story just in case you haven't read the book on which it based. You will enjoy it.

What is amazing about the central character is his unflinching and quiet self-confidence and his seeming lack of concern about the possible outcome of what he is about to get involved in. In a way he stumbles through his adventures yet, as he has already lived to 100, it's clear he always seems to know when it is right to seize the next opportunity. It is the completely unbelievable series of encounters that makes this story so interesting. Karlsson emerges as a bumbling, benevolent, indestructible, calamity of a man who always instinctively knows what to do next.

The plot of the story in the here and now is equally unlikely, yet it offers a symbiotic platform for the flashbacks and helps locate them in a wider frame of reference. This plot is character driven. If it weren't for the strength of Gustafsson's  performance, it would simply be a collection of very odd tales. The supporting cast do their job very well too.

This tale is delightful, very funny and will at times invite you to hold up a mirror and reflect on the significance of your own life. Therein lies it's strength. Do get hold of the disc and give it a spin. I'll give it 8/10.

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