I haven’t read Jonas Jonasson’s The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. But I went to the film with an abiding, even scarily indelible memory. I was pinned to a dentist’s chair, a year or two ago, as the man about to wreak drilling torment on me started to haemorrhage praise of an unknown-to-me bestselling Swedish comic novel. He had read it on holiday and laughed and laughed … After treatment, he directed me to the nearest bookshop. With numbed gums I made pilgrimage to a big shop window filled with copies of the novel, thinking: “I’ll buy one the day after tomorrow.” When that day came, they had all climbed out of the window and disappeared.
The book must be funny, though. Millions bought it and millions can’t be wrong. Sadly the film is poorly scripted and built around a mirthless performance by Robert Gustafsson, a less-than-100-year-old actor whose face has undergone seeming vulcanisation. Gustafsson has been to Bad Makeup Hell, where age is simulated by the application to the face of what seem bits of hardening rubber. After “Allan”, the hero, escapes his retirement home we flashback to his past as an explosives expert – meeting Stalin, Truman, Einstein’s idiot brother Herbert – as well as negotiating the patchy present-day mirth of his falling foul of a gang of crooks.