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Review: A Somewhat Gentle Man

Deadpan Scandinavian comedy, anyone?
By BETSY SHERMAN  |  February 23, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars

Stellan Skarsgård and director Hans Petter Moland previously teamed on the terrific dramas Zero Kelvin and Aberdeen. Their new collaboration, however, suggests that comedy, even deadpan Scandinavian comedy, is not Moland's forte. It's not bad, but only somewhat funny. Skarsgård's Ulrik is a taciturn mechanic whose life has been on hold during a 12-year prison stretch. Now free, the ponytailed lug returns to his bleak home town with modest desires: a good job, a smoke, a cup of coffee. He's alarmingly accommodating — for example, to a seedy local kingpin to whom he owes a debt — except when it comes to his ex-wife's edict not to contact his grown son. As the decent ex-con, Skarsgård does a lot with minimal means; his expression is priceless as Ulrik is coerced by his gruff landlady into a carnal arrangement. But he's ringed by uneven supporting characters and let down by the last act's rush toward grand gestures.

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