The One Hundred Year old man : Film Review

imageThe 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared.
Dir. Felix Herngren. Sweden. 2013 1hr 54mins. Cert. 15.
QFT Fri 18 to 31 July and other decent venues?

Life’s too Short. The titles too long. Fact is he didn’t disappear as he roams

Allan, Robert Gustafsson, is a man of many parts and with some important bits missing. He thought of himself as a new Alfred Nobel; that is the model I’m taking, when he was about seven when he discovered the destructive, universal changing power of Explosives.

This was such an wonderful discovery to him he would in a few short years master it. Maybe his education could be described as short but he was self taught as far as the dynamite type thing was concerned. So from aged seven to about nine, possibly ten. There is some vagueness on dates.

This film has taken stories of Allan’s life as also world defining as the posters press releases try to lift its reach, in that he met many dictators, misleaders, despots, through his engagement and know how about blowing things up which the many world Warmongers or begetters loved.

All eras in his life are covered and sometimes irratatingly – instead of sticking to a tension which appears in the present we get transported away from a sense of urgent jeopardy – the director kicks in another apparent story filling piece of what is despite his reckoning non essential information.

Allan had no sense of shame or even purpose or drive given perhaps due to his fathers extraneous one man world enlightenment. We are treated to set pieces of his fathers parallel misguidedness.

Talking of which Allan sets out on his Life’s too short to be sitting in a nursing home waiting to be patronized (the film) or possibly abused, Ill treated (real life) so figures out very little about the bit called the future and the bit called living.

Malmkoping Swedens Everyman homestead.
On his hundredth birthday the film starts with his moping at the thoroughly regimental, good things are dull type living in the nursing home and the over active mind of the heart of gold nursing supremo who is his chief human contact and he has a brainwave.
Whether he planned it or not, the not is proven later by his adventures, he opens his own living room window and takes a chair onto which he climbs, sits on the ill and swings his legs in the direction of freedom with inappropriate footware except for going to the toilet in.
The title gives this bit away. Either way not suspenseful.
Allan subsequently does a lot of dwelling on toilet etiquette which is not the usual cinematic avenue to deliver wisdom, and it doesn’t.
There is something Germanic about his affliction with toilet matters and something Germanic about the experiment or wilfully idiotic diagnosis of a Doctor poor Allan’s meets at an important stage in his life.
It alters his place in the tapestry of life.
Suffice to say he is aware of the difference as he queries people on their own habits.
It makes for a few jokes but is not again of any real interest. Not even as a shape forming thing. No one could have cared less except Alan.

The language, subtitles issues and spoken is just about OK as English creeps up from time to time. Also linguistic oddities occur, bye means hello, hop in means get in and everywhere he ends up appears to be moronsville.

The life necessary
Allan is responsible for lots of important things and he has for good or bad indifferently helped people.
Mostly inadvertently as he did when he joined the Spanish Civil War as he had been handed his best job ever of blowing up very large things including bridges and he could conduct himself authoritavely as he knew more about bomb making than anyone.

In the plot – essential you know this – he gets on the first bus with a suitcase he is supposed to be attending to for a person using the toilet. More loo.
He, decides is to strong a word, thinks the bus will go without him so rather than leave it unattended, he takes the suitcase onto the bus with him.

His bus has taken him to a place chosen only by the amount of change he had to pay at the station and at this end of journey, his escape plan now complete and executed with absentminded success.
Here, in this place of isolation and very little sign of life he wanders as he roams into a meeting with an avuncular stranger who likes his absentmindedness and lack of any idea of the future.
The man is a bit of a hermit and retired.

Before he has finished his new friends offering of a meal the inquisitiveness in them divulges the importance of the suitcase and explains sudden popularity. These chaps have custody of the … What is it?….hence the number of people with a necessity of locating bringing to Allan and his co-conspirator it a number of mishaps.
They occur at regular intervals which they end up on the survival side of, it makes the story last longer one thinks.

Polis or Wallander where are you!
Several incidents involving the suitcase and its keepers have the police force of this Swedish backwoods imitating Inspector Clouseau and not Wallander. This is the side story replete with derringer do’s and don’ts.

For a long film it has a pace which makes it survive as plot twists and bait is laid while the time shifts, unedifyingly irritants, the Atomic bomb is one of Allan’s success stories though many would disagree. The episode looks like a poor TV sketch and is a sub-genre Marty Feldman.
Allan is played by Swedish comedian, Robert Gustafsson. I didn’t know they did comedy but have realised of course the invention of the flat pack is a joke we haven’t just got yet.
Revealing the Elastic Old Age
If it were not for the makeup, which is a botched makey uppy centenarian and seems no one is trying to seriously convince? I would have thought it a reincarnation of the old swagger himself James Garner as he might just be now.

Make up is a problem as is animal rights.
A little love story develops which is about as sexy as it gets. The topic is off limits for some reason to Allan but you might catch on why very quickly.
Allan is instrumental in nurturing this relationship and brings some Marjorie Proops style advice to Benny; she was the sixties seventies go to relationship guru and all round agony aunt. How come they were called agony aunts.
We have come along way.
Allan uses common sense, as Marge did, to advise on the match between a Benny thirty something directionless adult and a farm girl Gunilla, well I can’t find another role for her, whose daring good Swedish looks, animal husbandry and pronounced curves seem like manna from heaven for Benny.
This encounter takes the form of a mere of road sojourn when the petrol gauge flickerers towards empty.
It is the cheapest trick in the script writers canon and the director treats it like a circus. His sense of camera direction is all over the shop and bizarrely we never get any interiors much as I would have liked to see Gunillas Boudoir in the flesh.

Where shall I insert a biblical reference or tale of human limits when the whole universe is unexplained, in so far as Brian Cox can have us regard the metaphor Infinite Monkey Cage. I can’t aspire to such heights of thought given the foregoing which appears to explain almost everything.

Some things are out there. Allan suggests his Mum had it right – it is not a plot spoiler just a Bon mote to listen out for. Its given in a couple of versions paraphrasing “life is what it is” told you it wasn’t a spoiler.

Look out for a bearded Lady, Allan on Sonja but not in the biblical sense, as I told you he does not go in for that sort of thing and in this case it would be unforgettable and possibly terminally something.

Conclusion ## to ### 2 to 3

There are many parts of the globe covered and I have a few favoured places but not necessarily in the circumstances that these folk seem to get into.
As a comic episode it is endearing and sometimes LOL stuff and May interest readers of the book in revisiting the story. It is no more that areas ant comedic slapstick adventure set in modern times and is no ‘Modern Times’. It is the aurora borealis in black and white, info. point the film is in colour, It may be interesting to look at but it’s not like the real thing that is slapstick and is about Grand epoch finding themes.
Hope you like it and find the jokes as I did.

John Graham

10 July 2014


QFT Fri 18 to 31 July and other decent venues?