Life is like a box of explosives. Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) may have a very different perspective on life to Forrest Gump, but he has similarly brushed with a cornucopia of world changing events and he, too, has met with many people who shaped those these events or, sometimes, just their brothers. Based upon the best-selling debut novel by Jonas Jonasson, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a deeply enjoyable, carefully plotted mini-epic that is as charming and funny as it is wicked and occasionally violent. In all the best ways.
‘The one who meant the most to me in my life was Molotov.’
Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) has found himself incarcerated in a care home for the elderly after he blew up the fox that killed his beloved cat Molotov. It’s a nice place, after all they have prepared him a cake for his 100th birthday but Allan doesn’t manage to eat any of it because he decides to escape from his room. He can’t go far due to a lack of finances, but at the bus station he obtains a suitcase from an angry young punk. Unbeknownst to Allan the suitcase is packed full of money, and belongs to a vicious villain currently located overseas. With their hard earned criminal cash having gone missing, the gang are deeply concerned and want their money back. If they can find it. Meanwhile the authorities are also after the missing 100 year old, as the care home are quite worried about him. No need to panic really, he is perfectly capable of looking after himself. He has a unique passion and skill. Allan, you see, likes to blow things up. An explosive pastime has served him with a century’s experience of detonation and destruction. We follow Allan’s adventures, finding new friends and accidentally making a number of enemies, as well as reflecting on his long life, one that involved meeting many famous characters in a career that was sometimes successful and sometimes just bombed out.
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is an absurd story but it is also delightful, genuinely funny and occasionally shocking. The well constructed narrative flits effortlessly between past and present as it combines Allan’s enjoyably preposterous life story with the escalation of his current situation as he evades the drug thugs, constantly foiling their attempts to retrieve their suitcase – entirely inadvertently, of course.
Allan’s recollections of his past make for fascinating viewing as we learn about his encounters with some of the 20th Century’s most famous – and infamous – persons. Most enjoyable is the story of his involvement in the Spanish civil war ‘I did nothing but eat and sleep and blow things up,’ where he dances with General Franco (Koldo Losada), but we also get to enjoy scenes where he meets Gorbachev (Sigitas Rackys), argues with Robert Oppenheimer (Philip Rosch) and meets Albert’s brother Herbert Einstein (David Shackleton) at a gulag.
More than just an explosively good comedy, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared stormed the Swedish box office to become the number 1 hit of 2013, blowing away all competition. It’s clever, funny and just a little bit sick – highly entertaining.