After living a long and colorful life, Allan Karlsson finds himself stuck in a nursing home. On his 100th birthday, he leaps out a window and begins an unexpected journey.
Allan (Robert Gustafsson) has lived a full life. He has traveled around the world, met famous dignitaries, tyrants and presidents, helped create some of the most amazing discoveries of the 20th century but now, at 100 years old, he is in a retirement home, ready to spend the remainder of his days there. Sitting in his bedroom, waiting for the staff to bring him a ‘surprise’ birthday cake, he opens his window and decides to take a walk. And thus begins another amazing journey that he wasn’t contemplating when he woke up this morning and this becomes the criteria for how his many adventures and escapades over the years, transpired. He just happened upon all of them, inadvertently saving lives and in some instances, ending them.
After making his way to the local bus station, with only a few dollars in his pocket, he buys a one-way ticket as far as his money will allow. While waiting for his transport, a young skinhead with a large suitcase enters the building and needing to use the bathroom in a hurry, rudely tells Allan to watch his luggage while he relieves himself. Right then, his bus arrives and he leaves, with luggage in tow. Disembarking at a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, he meets Julius (Iwar Wiklander), the only person living there and they become fast friends. Needless to say, when the skinhead realizes that Allan is gone, his reaction tells us everything we need to know and that whatever is in the suitcase, is of great importance.
After deciding to open the suitcase, both Allan and Benny find €50 million euros inside and quickly decide to leave town. Along the way, they enlist the help of Benny (David Wiberg) and Gunilla (Mia Skäringer), a young couple in desperate need of new lives and with the money they have, they offer to split it with them four ways. Alan Ford, who has played the menacing English gangster in such films as “Snatch” and “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” here appears from time to time as, you guessed it, a menacing English gangster, eagerly awaiting the delivery of his money only to have his goons screw up at every turn. The film cleverly infuses the present with Allan’s past and as the film progresses, so does his backstory.
He becomes a part of the Spanish Civil War and while his comrades are trying to assassinate Francisco Franco Bahamonde, the Spanish dictator, he unintentionally saves his life and this encounter starts him down a path where he will rendezvous with Joseph Stalin, Sigvard Eklund, Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, Tage Erlander and Robert Oppenheimer, who at the time they meet, is having trouble trying to complete his bomb for the Manhattan Project and Allan, with a keen interest and knowledge in explosives, gives him the contributing factor required in order to set off the first atomic bomb. Allan is a simple man, just trying to make his way through life and through a series of (mis)adventures, he ends up in situations he never imagined.
The movie is charming and entertaining and while it sometimes plays tongue-in-cheek, bordering satirical, it thankfully never goes overboard but at the same time, while there are some genuinely afflictive moments, they are never so precarious that it takes away from the overall lighthearted tone of the film. The cast work well together as an ensemble and it was refreshing to see Sweden as a backdrop for a film’s setting instead of the the U.S. or other more notable locations like the U.K. or Canada. Director Felix Herngren perfectly balances the movie’s humor and gravity so that neither overtakes each other and in this sort of story, that is essential.
In select theaters including the Angelika Film Center in Dallas May 15th
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