A 100-Year-Old Comedy From Sweden
By Skip Sheffield
We don’t get too many comedies out of Sweden, home of such downbeat drama masters as Igmar Bergman and Bo Widerberg and the controversial sexual fantasies of Vilgot Sjoman. However, “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” is quite funny in any language. It is in Swedish with subtitles and some English.
I had never heard of Robert Gustafsson, the 100-year-old man of the title, Allan Karlsson, but it is quite a tour de force for the actor, who plays the centenarian and his younger self.
We meet Allan in his nursing home as the staff is preparing a cake for his momentous birthday.
Allan is having none of it. He climbs out a window and walks to the nearest bus station. He has just enough money for a one-way ticket to a small town called Byringe. At the station he meets a burly young biker who goes to the men’s room and insists Allan mind his carrying case. The bus approaches, Allan shrugs and hops on it, carrying the case with him.
At Byringe he meets Julius (Iwar Wiklander), who gives him food and shelter. The men open the case and discover it is full of cash: $50 million Kroner’s worth. Later he falls in with Benny (Jens Hulten), a sympathetic biker who fall for Gunilla (Mila Skarlinger) who harbors a purloined circus elephant.
Based on a novel by Jonas Jonasson, “100-Year-old Man” has echoes of “Zelig” and “Forrest Gump” as the clueless but clever Allan meets such world figures as Franco, Stalin, Truman, Einstein and even witnesses the Manhattan Project in flashbacks while vicious bikers pursue him in the present, after the money. The film can be seen at the Gateway and Lake Worth Playhouse.