A Somewhat Gentle Man
I must say that other than flat box, DIY furniture I’m loving everything I see out of Sweden. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, Let the Right One In, Arn The Knight Templar, the Sedin twins and even those little meatballs. I feel I can add A Somewhat Gentle Man to the list too, even though it is Norwegian. For my introductory purposes we’ll say that’s close enough.
Starring Stellan Skarsgård, A Somewhat Gentle Man deals with a man just released from prison, trying to start anew on the outside, but with an account to settle for his old boss, with the snitch who put him behind bars. Now, the cover write-up for this movie calls it hilarious, but that is a little misleading. While there are several very funny parts to this movie, the majority of the humour is very, very dark. The city, the characters, the tone were all very worn down, and almost spent for lack of a better term.
Throughout the movie, Ulrik (Skarsgård) is served dinner by his landlady, who then asks for sex in payment for the meal. He meets up with his ex-wife upon his release from prison at the restaurant she works in, only to have her offer him sex too. He gets a job at a garage, and defends the secretary from her abusive ex-husband and is offered sex again. Perhaps it’s a Swedish thing….Actually the sex scenes had almost all romance and all eroticism removed from them, and especially the scenes with the landlady, were fairly comical.
I actually think my favourite character in the movie was Sven, played by Bjørn Sundquist (of Dead Snow). The mile-a-minute, run-on sentence, hardly takes a breath when he talks garage owner, who suffers a slight heart attack, but still … manages to continue speaking without … really … so much as a pause while he clutches his heart on the floor of the auto shop. Really, his character was very nice and a wonderful, normal foil to the rest of the cast.
Of course there is tension in the movie, Ulrik must “settle his account”, and kill a man, but he really doesn’t want to. He is trying to recapture a relationship with his son, but Ulrik’s criminal past is frowned upon by his son’s pregnant fiancée and her family. His rebuilt world consists of a good job, a roof over his head, and several eager women; and is now collapsing around him; will he continue looking forward, or will he look back to his pre-prison lifestyle?
All in all, this film was a slow buildup, but very worthwhile. It won’t be for everyone, but that’s okay, it was a very satisfying film.