Thursday, March 03, 2011

A Somewhat Gentle Man

As I mentioned in last week's preview, the Oscars and the change of the calendar from February to March are triggering a whole bunch of changes at local theaters, with Kendall Square in particular turning things over quite a bit. So, take this as your Thursday reminder to see if anything you want to go to is leaving town tonight. Both A Somewhat Gentle Man and The Housemaid are worth a ticket, and will be gone tomorrow.

En ganske Snill Mann (A Somewhat Gentle Man)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 1 March 2010 in Landmark Kendall Square #8 (first-run)

The phrase "returning to the scene of the crime" is generally used during the investigation of a mystery, but if you take a broader view of what the "scene" is, almost every criminal does it eventually. It's just that in many cases, it's after prison, and even if your hometown is filled with the things that got you in trouble in the first place, where else are you going to go? It's a funny situation, somewhere on the border of weird and amusing, at least in this case.

As the movie starts, Ulrik (Stellan Skarsgard) is being replaced from prison after twelve years, although there's no-one to meet him; everybody seems to have thought it would be later in the week. Still, his former boss Rune Jensen (Bjorn Floberg) helps out some - he finds Ulrik a room to rent and a job as a mechanic. He also points out that Kenny (Henrik Mestad), the man who sold Ulrik out to the cops is still in town, and wouldn't Ulrik like to balance accounts. Honestly, though, all he really wants is to stay out of trouble and maybe reunite with his son Geir (Jan Gunnar Roise).

There have been a lot of movies about people just out of prison, trying to re-enter society, but what A Somewhat Gentle Man does particularly well is show how Ulrik doesn't take even the smallest things for granted after his time "away". There's an unusual lack of cringe-worthy awkwardness to the scenes where Ulrik reunites with his son - it's awkward, certainly, but in a way that says both want it to go well, as opposed to the usual "how is he going to screw it up" vibe. And take some early scenes where Ulrik's new landlady Karen Margrethe (Jorunn Kjellsby) brings a television into his room and hooks it up, followed by him trying to adjust the picture and finally being delighted by what he finds. The normal line might be a snobbish "you're free now, don't waste your time on that", but instead we see a man free to enjoy movies, music, and contests if he wants.

Full review at EFC.

1 comment:

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