After 12 years in prison for muder, Ulrik (Stellan Skarsgard) is finally released. Unsure of what to do with himself, he just falls into his old habits and does what local crime boss Rune Jensen (Bjørn Floberg) tells him to do. Which at first is live in Rune’s sister Karen Margrethe’s (Jorun Kjellsby) basement and work in Sven’s (Bjørn Sundquist) garage. This suits Ulrik just fine, who is much less interested in restarting a life of crime than reconnecting with his estranged son Geir (Jan Gunnar Røise). But things don’t really go as planned.
A Somewhat Gentle Man is a very Scandinavian film. It’s nice, calm, has a dark sense of humor and is most of all populated with real people. If you like that, you’re going to love this film.
Stellan Skarsgard is the center, heart and soul of this movie. His Ulrik is wonderful [and here we have a (mostly) stoic performance done well] and provides pretty much all the atmosphere of the film, simply by being there and watching what’s happening around him. Especially in his interaction with his son Geir, this works perfectly.
The tone of the film and the sense of humor it has, actually hide how sad the story is. Everytime Ulrik shows joy or a bit more passion, he gets hit over the head with it. No wonder he is that stoic. And the end is actually quite tragic, when you think about it, but it hardly feels that way while watching.
The rest of the cast is really great, too. I loved how real the people were (which is also very much thanks to the script), especially the women, but also Rune as the small-town-gangster-boss was wonderfully sketched. And Sven!
Moland is a good director. He takes his time, but the movie never really gets boring (though it has a couple of moments that get a little too long). And he nicely captures the “dark and dirty side” of Norway, which always seems to be so perfectly tidy. [Let the stereotypes fly! Yay!]
Summarising: Though it might want to be a little deeper than it ends up being, it’s totally worth seeing for Stellan Skarsgard.