A Somewhat Gentle Man
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Theatrical Release Date: 03/25/2011
Director: Hans Petter Moland
Cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Bjørn Floberg, Gard B. Eidsvold, Jorunn Kjellsby, Bjørn Sundquist, Jan Gunnar Røise, Jannike Kruse
Rated: Not Rated by the MPAA
Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes


Going Up?

If Denmark wants another angle for upping their tourism numbers, they could always imply that they’ve got rather loose women. At least, that’s one of the things I gleaned from watching “A Somewhat Gentle Man”.

Now, to be clear, before any of you go rushing to figure out what airline flies direct to Copenhagen, not all of these women may be what psychologists describe as mentally stable. You see, in the film, Stellan Skarsgård plays a man who’s let out of prison after serving 12 years for murder. His old crime boss (Bjørn Floberg) hooks him up with a mechanic’s job and gets him a place to stay with Jorunn Kjellsby … the first woman who throws herself at Skarsgård, trading home cooked meals for a quick poke and not seeming to notice or care when he’s so much more interested in eating his dinner that he’s still chewing as their carnal activities get underway.

Sound strange? Yeah, well welcome to the land of dark comedies … a Danish dark comedy to be exact. Will you have to read subtitles? Sure, but you all went to school for some time so I don’t think it’ll be out of your league. The characters are a bit odd but that’s the intention and as long as you are a fan of such fare, scenes like Skarsgård’s half-hearted trysts are some of the funniest I’ve seen all year.

Skarsgård and director Hans Petter Moland are well acquainted with one another, having worked together in “Zero Kelvin” and “Aberdeen”. That comfort and trust was clearly evident on-screen as Skarsgård delivers one of his most nuanced performances to date. As this is a dark comedy, he must constantly toe the line between absurd and bittersweet and does so beautifully.

Such an undertaking requires that the actors, script, and director all work together to create a unified vision or risk the film becoming schizophrenic or disjointed and everyone was on the same page here. The result is a delightful mix of character study and quirky comedy, with excellent acting all around. Saying too much more would be simply divulging plot, which rarely is any fun for people to read and even less for me to write so let’s just wrap things up, shall we?

If you’re a fan of Scandinavian cinema and/or the genre, “A Somewhat Gentle Man” is a welcome breath of fresh air in a generally stagnant cinematic landscape (though I’ve seen a few good films that will release in April so there is hope) and gets a 3.5 out of 5.

3.5 out of 5