Film Review: The Hundred-year Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeared

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 11:28pm

Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg,Mia Skäringer
Director: Felix Herngren
Categoryy: IIB (Swedish,English, Spanish and Russian)
Rating: 3/5


With the violent deaths of several characters treated in an unnervingly light-hearted way, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared should be an acquired taste. Yet, to judge by Jonas Jonasson's 2009 novel's appearance on bestseller lists across Europe and elsewhere, including Hong Kong, the darkly comic tale of a centenarian who has led a Forrest Gump-like life has broad appeal.

So it was just a matter of time before a film adaptation came along, and Felix Herngren's cinematic take on the tale was released on Christmas Day 2013 in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

Fans of the book will flock to watch the film, but even those unfamiliar with Jonasson's tome will enjoy seeing comedian Robert Gustafsson as the white-haired but sprightly Allan Karlson, who decides on his 100th birthday to make good on his conviction that he's still too full of life to be dumped in an old folks' home.

After climbing out of the window of his ground floor room, Karlson heads to the local bus station, where he boards the next bus out of town with a suitcase belonging to a young thug (Simon Säppenen). Dropped off in a one house "town", Karlson is invited in by the home's owner, Julius (Iwar Wiklander), for what turns out to be several drinks.

The two men discover that the suitcase contains an amazing amount of cash, and go on the run. Along the way, they befriend a perpetual student named Benny (David Wiberg) and the elephant-owning Gunilla (Mia Skäringer), and find themselves being pursued by Swedish subordinates of an English gangster (Alan Ford) with claims to the money.

Although Karlson's series of misadventures would be too eventful for most people to bear, they pale in comparison to his past escapades, which include blowing up bridges and partying with General Franco during the Spanish civil war, helping develop the atomic bomb, and banishment to a Soviet gulag after incurring Stalin's wrath.

The flashbacks that recount Karlson's colourful past are amusing but their seemingly haphazard insertions into the film can make things feel too loose and confusing.

With its jaunty musical score threatening to overwhelm proceedings, it gets very silly at times. Still, it's hard to prevent a grin from spreading over your face, and the whole thing ends up considerably more playful than you would expect from a multilingual Swedish film about a very old protagonist.


The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared opens on July 3