Monday, February 06, 2023

Movie Monday: A Man Called Otto

This weekend, my husband and I enjoyed a staycation, including a rare trip to the movie theater! We saw A Man Called Otto, based on the novel A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I read (and loved) the novel, my husband didn't read it, and we both thoroughly enjoyed this warm, poignant, very funny movie adaptation.

Otto, played by Tom Hanks, is a grumpy older man who lives in a townhouse community, located in Pennsylvania. He's been forced to retire from a job he loved, and Otto is someone who needs to feel useful. Each morning, he "does his rounds" of the neighborhood, checking that everyone is parked where they should be, that the recyclables are properly sorted, and that everyone is following the rules. But Otto has a secret. With his wife and his job both gone now, Otto has no reason to keep living. He's determined to end his life on his own terms. Early in the movie, he calls to cancel his electric, gas, and phone services to leave no loose ends. But life has other plans. New neighbors move into the neighborhood, a Mexican-American family. Marisol, played by Mariana Travino, is hugely pregnant; her husband, Tommy (played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), is a nitwit in Otto's eyes. And they have two adorable little girls. This family plies Otto with kindness, requests for help, and delicious food. Throughout the movie, flashbacks in Otto's memory help to fill in the blanks about how he came to be where he is now. With the help of several crises, Otto's icy exterior gradually thaws a bit, and he finds a reason to live.

Like the novel it's adapted from, this movie is hilariously funny, while also including some dark, difficult emotions (it does, after all, include several suicide attempts). Tom Hanks, of course, does a wonderful job of bringing the curmudgeonly Otto to life on screen, and Mariana Travino is excellent as the warm, persistent Marisol. It's a faithful adaptation of the book, following the plot pretty closely, with the exception of Ove becoming Otto and being located in the US instead of Sweden (though there's a nod to Otto's Swedish heritage in the movie). My husband and I both laughed a lot and teared up at the end and had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at the movies.

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