Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review - A Somewhat Gentle Man

After serving a twelve year sentence for murder Ulrik is reluctantly released from prison. Divorced, estranged from his son and still in debt to his old gang Ulrik attempts to get his life back in order one step at a time.

Sometimes the most mundane acts can be a rousing experience. Not the actual act of doing the mundane act, but witnessing the mundane acts as they play out can be quite comical. "A Somewhat Gentle Man" is a brilliant comedy that thrives in the mundane and everyday life of a Norwegian ex convict. A man who truly appears to be very humble and entirely gentle.

Characterization is huge a factor to any story. It can make or break a movie. Especially one that lives and breathes off of a very simple story with very simple characters. Screenwriter Kim Fupz Aakeson gives these characters compelling characterization without having them do very much at all. The dialogue and situations are minimal, yet very effective. Much of the actors abilities is what excels the minimalist roles, but Aakeson deserves credit for laying the ground work down in a versed manner.

Stellan Skarsgård is fabulous as Ulrik. He plays the role so subtle and subdued it may take viewers a few scenes before they get how funny his performance actually is. For me, within the opening scene I knew Skarsgård had something special to show us as Ulrik. His comedic timing is absolutely precise throughout. He also plays off the other characters/actors so well you'll find yourself waiting to see what he does next.

Another set of performances that elevate "A Somewhat Gentle Man" are Bjørn Floberg playing Rune Jensen and Gard B. Eidsvold playing Rolf. These two are like Heckle and Jeckle. Rolf works for Jensen and in exchange Jensen treats him terribly. The exchanges that stem from their characters is a total riot to watch on screen. Jensen especially who has that overtly slick used car salesman persona that instantly rubs you the wrong way, but Floberg makes the character work in a way that is both revolting and comical.

The humor in "A Somewhat Gentle Man" may not be for everybody. It is very dry. A number of moments may even come across as appalling, but in my world they are endlessly hysterical. For instance the nuance that develops between Ulrik and a lady he rents his room from are priceless. The scenes between them get more and more predominant as the film pushes through. Each new scene you expect more laughs and with each new scene you get those laughs. Its not every day that a film can pull off a running joke well but director Hans Petter Moland not only does it well, he does it in a very impressive manner.

Lastly "A Somewhat Gentle Man is the kinda comedy I could watch repeatedly. Its one that has the potential to grow on you. Each viewing you'll potentially find new things to laugh at or enjoy.