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Somewhat Gentle Man, A (DVD Review)

3 Apr, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Prebook 4/5/11; Street 5/3/11
Box Office $0.03 million
$27.99 DVD
Not rated.
In Norwegian with English subtitles.
Stars Stellan Skarsgård, Bjorn Floberg, Gard B. Eidsvold, Jorunn Kjellsby.

Understated dark comedy A Somewhat Gentle Man showcases a naked realism often found in European cinema that represents a refreshing break from sanitized Hollywood.

In a compelling performance, Stellan Skarsgård (Mamma Mia!) plays Ulrik, an oddly ponytailed prison convict just released after serving 12 years for the murder of his wife’s lover. Stone faced, Ulrik seems in no hurry to do anything or go anywhere — as evidenced by the harsh frozen tundra waiting outside in the opening scenes.

A brief reconnoiter in a local watering hole reunites Ulrik with a former criminal ringleader, Jensen (Bjorn Floberg), who, for unexplained reasons, wants Ulrik to eliminate the snitch who sent him to prison. Jensen, who constantly engages in inane banter with dim-witted sidekick Rolf (Gard B. Eidsvold), is but one of several eccentric characters presented to the indifferent Ulrik.

In reality, the taciturn felon seeks reunification with his grown son — a prospect that appears impossible when his pregnant wife refuses to associate with her father-in-law’s past.

In the meantime, Ulrik becomes quite the unwitting but willing comical sexual attraction to his homely landlord (in exchange for dinners), ex-wife (in the backroom of her diner) and receptionist at a local garage where he wrenches (after dealing with her abusive husband). The emotionless sex serves as a stark reminder of the dank reality that can envelope people’s deadpan lives. Luckily for Ulrik, spring is in the air.

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