The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared movie review: yes, that’s what he does

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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared green light

An absurdist mock epic that is hilarious, outrageous, and completely insane. It’s like a bonkers Swedish Forrest Gump.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Rarely has a film’s title been so bold, so bald, so straightforward, so lacking in pretense, pretension, or bullshit as that of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. To escape the dreadfully cheery imminent celebration of his 100th birthday, Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson, who is actually only half that age) climbs out the window of the retirement home he was sentenced to after an unfortunate mishap with dynamite, and disappears. Not to our eyes, of course, only to those of the horrible busybodies in the home who want to limit his fun. Allan really likes blowing things up, you see: this has been the bliss of his life, and he misses it. But mostly he just doesn’t like being cooped up. Allan isn’t very bright, however, and almost instantly he has gotten himself into trouble with a dangerous-looking skinhead type and started telling the story of his life to his new pal Julius (Iwar Wiklander). Past and present blends in an absurdist mock epic that is hilarious, outrageous, and completely insane. Writer (with Hans Ingemansson) and director Felix Herngren has made something like a bonkers Swedish Forrest Gump, what with Allan’s life having taken him through the Spanish Civil War (“For years I did nothing but eat, sleep, and blow things up”), the Manhattan Project (biggest explosions ever!), Cold War Russia (very Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and now what is perhaps is greatest adventure ever, not for the least which reason in that it teams him up with a former circus elephant (among other intriguingly weird characters). Through it all, Allan remains a clueless buffoon buffeted by events so far beyond his comprehension (though not ours) and manipulated by people so much smarter than him. And yet he’s the one who lived to 100 and is still blowing things up. Take that, History.


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared for its representation of girls and women.

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Danielm80
Danielm80
Thu, Jul 03, 2014 6:20pm

Through it all, Allan remains a clueless buffoon buffeted by events so far beyond his comprehension (though not ours) and manipulated by people so much smarter than him. And yet he’s the one who lived to 100 and is still blowing things up. Take that, History.

I have similar thoughts whenever I have to deal with a particularly illogical library customer–like the guy who yelled at me, repeatedly, because I wouldn’t check in an item that wasn’t a library book. But I don’t say, “Take that, History.” I say, “Take that, evolution.”

RogerBW
RogerBW
Thu, Jul 24, 2014 3:29pm

It’s hard to go wrong with a dramatic elephant (see The House of the Four Winds), as distinct from a comedic elephant. Definitely on my list.

iakobos
iakobos
Sun, Aug 23, 2015 12:33am

I watched this on an overseas flight last year and got a real kick out of it. Ordinarily, I don’t enjoy subtitled movies but this one captured my attention and never let go. It’s the kind of great movie you can imagine being remade into a terrible Hollywood domestic movie. The direction (Tomas Alfredson – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is what really sets this movie apart.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  iakobos
Sun, Aug 23, 2015 9:45am

I do fear that this is slated for a Hollywood remake, which will inevitably be terrible.