The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared (2013) – reviewed by George

A 99-year-old man, Allan Karlsson by name, lives with his cat in a small house in rural Sweden, and when a fox kills his cat, he naturally tapes together dynamite sticks and then adds frankfurters and more tape. He strings this package out to the spot where he found his cat, and then he sits at his window with his finger on the detonator, and when the fox returns he blows it up. Unfortunately the attention he attracts is less interested in justice and is more concerned with the explosion. Now Allan finds he has blasted himself into a retirement home.
In the home, on the occasion of his hundredth birthday, one of the nurses is compulsively counting the candles for the cake, while Allan in his room suddenly gets up, opens the window, and climbs out into the flower bed. He goes to the bus station and buys what he can afford – a one-way ticket to Byringe. The ticket clerk is somewhat out of it, and asks Allan if he is 65, for the senior discount.
As Allan turns to find a place to wait for the bus, a rough-looking, very angry man stomps in pulling a large wheeled bag by the extendable handle. He can’t get the bag through the door to the restroom, though he struggles madly and curses. Finally he shoves the bag at Allan and says, “Hold onto this bag and don’t let go!!” Allan tries to protest, but the man screams, “Shut the ___ up! Damn!!” Allan does hold onto the bag as instructed, but still has to catch his bus before it leaves, and the man did say, “Don’t let go!” So when the man exits the restroom: no Allan and no bag. The man stares around and shrieks, “Where the ___ are you, old man?!”
Allan on the bus is thinking of his father, who was an early proponent of readily available contraception. He gathers a crowd in their little village in Hungary and holds up a very large condom and says, “This is the solution to famine and poverty. With this, the woman doesn’t become pregnant. No kids! This is amazing!” And he is arrested for blasphemy. When he gets out of jail he leaves Allan and his mother and goes to Russia, supposedly a freer-thinking society, to preach his gospel in a market square. He is arrested and blindfolded and placed in front of a firing squad. “Can I say one last thing?” Apparently not, his answer is a fusillade.
Allan and his mother learn of his father’s death on a sunny April day, and that is important because it is also the day Allan learns how good it feels to blow things up. His father’s belongings have been shipped back to Hungary and in the box is a set of Russian nesting dolls. Allan proceeds to blow them up one by one. His life now has a purpose.
Allan’s mother dies about two years later from consumption, and on her deathbed she tells him, “You sound like your father. He was always thinking for no good reason. And see how he ended up.”
As he gets off the bus in Byringe, another passenger brings him the bag. “Hey, you forgot this.” “Right. That thing.” And now the adventure begins. He makes  a new friend, the station master of the closed-up train station in Byringe, and then we see the bus station clerk, bruised and bloodied, forced to drive the angry man to Byringe in search of Allan and the bag. When the clerk runs out of gas, he runs period. But of course this is not enough to stop the angry one, who is responsible for the contents of the bag.
At this point we are only 14 minutes into the movie, and it is well-everything – written, directed, acted, designed, costumed, photographed, edited, scored. Wonderful! And then we begin watching two movies: one is the current caper film, and the other is a sort of homage to “Zelig”, where the hero meets famous people and touches their lives in unexpected (and hopefully humorous) ways. I really liked the information about Allan’s childhood in Hungary, but the subsequent inserts: Allan meets Robert Oppenheimer and solves the problem with the construction of the atom bomb, Allan meets Vice-President Truman, President Reagan, Albert Einstein, General Franco, and even Einstein’s brother Herbert: these did nothing for me except keep me from Allan’s fate as he meets new people that we like, and yet the specter of the angry one and his cohorts in pursuit, with murder on their minds, is ever-present. The flashbacks are humorous, but the present-day story is really comical, especially comical and inventive as the bad guys manage to knock themselves off, so that Allan and his friends are never responsible for any violence. And Allan meets a lady with an elephant, and the elephant cannot be left behind.
The film is only 2 hours long, but I still would have preferred to watch without the celebrity encounters.
The film, in Swedish with English subtitles, was directed by Felix Herngren, and written by Herngren and Hans Ingemansson, from the novel by Jonas Jonasson (can we blame Jonas for the dichotomy?). The phenomenal actor Robert Gustafsson played Allan at all ages except childhood.

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