The film is a mixture of farce; it is a fantasy about an explosives expert who worked for political leaders from Franco to Stalin. Now on his 100th birthday, Allan (Robert Gustafsson) escapes his nursing home to go an adventure.
The film contains a rogue hippie, bikers, an English gangster and Benny (David Wiberg) who struggles to settle with a career choice so he constantly studies at universities. The film’s director Felix Herngren uses a sort of collective montage to show Allan at various periods in history.
Gunilla (Mia Skäringer) is introduced as the ex-wife of one of the biker gang, she falls for Benny. She owns an elephant which brings a gag when the elephant saves the day. Herngren from Jonas Jonasson's 2009 novel has made a film essentially about two men Allan and Benny: Allan has lived and in a sense achieved everything he wanted, whereas Benny feels afraid to make even the first step.
Gustafsson, aged 47 at the time of filming, is heavily made up to look 100. His strongest scenes are as a younger man when he has these fantastic one-liners about how men shouldn’t dance.
Felix Herngren and Robert Gustafsson at the premiere. Photo: Erik Mårtensson/TT
English film critic Mark Kermode complained about the film’s lack of translation through Swedish humour for a British audience. I have lived in Sweden for a year and I still feel that I would connect with this film even I had not ever stepped foot in the country.
Peter Larkin is an Irish film writer currently based in Sweden. Read his blog here.