Featured Critic; St. Louis, MO
For everyone who's completely fed up with vibrant, attractive twenty-somethings getting all the sex in movies - I give you veteran actor Stellan Skarsgård in Norway's "A Somewhat Gentle Man". In the film's 108 minute running time, Skarsgård's unassuming, soft-spoken, and recently released ex-con character Ulrik manages to rack up more impromptu trysts than either Shaft or James Bond in any single film. There's no question, the ladies love Ulrik - even if the resulting passion is awkward to the point of possibly putting Woody Allen (no stranger to mining the physical act of love for uneasy laughs) to shame. It's not the ages of the participants but rather what they're doing, what they choose to say, and where they are when the mood strikes.  "Unappetizing" is a word that comes to mind in having to watch the repeated coupling of these Norwegian seasoned citizens - although that can't be completely appropriate, seeing how Skarsgård is eating during roughly half the sessions.

To be fair, the sexual shenanigans that Ulrik so often finds himself participating in is merely one aspect of this somewhat gentle crime-fused dramedy. When the ladies in his life aren't interrupting his dinner, he's attempting to build a new life for himself now that he's out of the slammer with his murder charge paid off in full. That's right - Ulrik killed someone. Turns out he'd been in the employ of a crime boss named Jensen (Bjørn Floberg), who had the common decency of providing for Ulrik's family while he was away (prison being an occupational hazard of working as a hench-goon). But once out and settled (thanks again to Jensen), Ulrik decides he's done with that life, and that he'd prefer to work as a mechanic and establish himself as a father to his estranged grown son, who is on the brink of becoming a father himself.

While it's true that Ulrik's break from crime doesn't go so well, it must be stated that that is not the focus of this film. Director Hans Petter Moland is clearly less interested in such tired plots, as he spends most of his time savoring the off-hand nuances and idiosyncrasies of these distinctly non-glamorous every-folk in their threadbare blue-collar existences. Skarsgård, with his effortlessly expressive face, may not say all that much but he infuses every moment of the story with real heart. It all adds up to "A Somewhat Gentle Man" being a sometimes chuckle-worthy, sometimes cringe-inducing, sometimes mundane, sometimes heart-breaking tale of a man who's made some wrong moves in his life, and is only now realizing he'd like to try to make a few decent ones. If only all those pesky women would let him finish a meal for once...!

- Jim Tudor

A Somewhat Gentle Man

  • Hans Petter Moland
  • Kim Fupz Aakeson (screenplay)
  • Stellan Skarsgård
  • Jorunn Kjellsby
  • Bjørn Floberg
  • Gard B. Eidsvold
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Hans Petter MolandKim Fupz AakesonStellan SkarsgårdJorunn KjellsbyBjørn FlobergGard B. EidsvoldComedyCrimeDrama

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