A Man Called Ove Movie Review
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Growing old is very difficult. Aside from the physical ailments that slowly diminish our bodies, many people tend to socially isolate themselves because they become set in their ways. This stubbornness is the product of loneliness and the many experiences we have had over our life, such as happy and sad times, death of loved ones, or grudges that we have held for far too long. If you are lucky, someone with a big heart and the ability to break down generational barriers comes along and gives you new reasons to enjoy the years that you have remaining.
A Man Called Ove is based on a 2012 novel by Swedish Author Fredrik Backman, the film adaptation by the same name was written and directed by Hannes Holm and released in Sweden in 2015. It is just making its way into US theaters with its original Swedish soundtrack and English subtitles. Filled with a cast of exceptional and highly experienced Swedish actors (all of whom are mostly unknown to US viewers), this simple, well-constructed dark comedy gives a deep insight into dealing with the difficulties of growing old.
Ove (played by Rolf Lassgård) is a retired and desperately lonely old man. He spends his day making sure the rules of his private residential community are strictly enforced. His lack of ability to socially connect with any of his neighbors increases his isolation and forces him to seek comfort in his memories. When a new family moves in across the street, he approaches them with his usual cold-hearted demeanor. The matriarch of the new family, Parvaneh (played by Bahar Pars), is not put off by his sharp tongue and goes out of her way to connect with Ove. The film follows their rocky relationship as the grumpy old man is transformed into a father figure by his ability to help the young couple in more ways than he could have imagined.
Foreign language films are not for everyone, but I recommend A MAN CALLED OVE to escape the over-the-top special effect-laden blockbusters dominating US theaters. If I have one complaint, it would be the running joke throughout the film that does not translate well into English, and therefore the meaning gets lost. See if you can spot the joke. That minor shortfall should not stop you from taking the time to view this film. It is masterfully acted and well worth your time. If you are not inclined to see a foreign language film in the theater, then you might want to wait until late December for the domestic release of the DVD/Blu-ray. There is also a stage version of the story in the works, and if we are lucky, we will get an English translation in the US. In closing, I’ll mention that A Man Called Ove has been selected as the 2016 Swedish entry for the best foreign language film at the next Academy Awards. You’ll have to wait until January 2017 to see if it earns a nomination.